To Your Health
October, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 10)
The Agony of the Feet
By Dr. Kevin M. Wong
Have you taken a good look at your feet lately? Try it now - I mean it. Slip your feet out of your shoes, take off your socks and give your feet a good look. What do you notice? Are there any calluses, corns or bunions? Do your feet look red or do your toes look cramped and pushed together? When you compare your two feet, do they look different from one another? Your feet have a story to tell, and it's time you listen.
Many of us go through life and do not realize the impact our two feet can have on our overall health. The feet are our foundation, and it is important to make sure that foundation is level and well-supported. Do you know how many arches your feet have? Most people would say one per foot. But did you know that you have three? The three arches are the inner arch, the outer arch and the arch under the forefoot.
To give you an idea of the connection the feet have with your spine and the rest of your body, stand up with your legs comfortably apart and put your hands on your hips. Now roll your feet inwards as far as you can and hold that position for a few seconds. Do you feel the pressure on the inside of your ankles, your inner knees, your outer hips and perhaps even your lower back? Now roll your feet back to being level again. Do you notice how the pressure on those joints decreased as you did this?
Rolling the feet inward caused the arches of your feet to drop or collapse toward the ground. You were re-creating a scenario that occurs in more than 80 percent of the world's population. This phenomenon is called excessive or overpronation. If you have ever heard a runner describe themselves as a "pronator," this is what they are referring to. Overpronation happens in eight out of 10 people who are walking around our planet every day.
Now, some inward rolling of the feet is normal, but for many of us, the dropping of the arches is so serious that it causes pain and problems in the feet, ankles, knees and/or the lower back. Some of these joints may even be causing pain for you. I will describe a few common conditions and what you can do to help yourself. At the very least, it will give you new appreciation for your feet.
All of the conditions described below can come from a variety of sports and activities that require you to be on your feet. Even simple everyday activities like walking through the halls of your home or workplace can create foot problems. See if any of the following conditions applies to you.
Treating Foot Problems
From what you have learned thus far about the arches of the feet and some of the problems that can affect them, it is obvious that something must be done to help. Long-term problems will result from any of these conditions if the proper treatment is not sought. Here are possible treatment options to give you an idea of how to help yourself and when to seek help from a professional.