Your feet – especially flat feet

Most of us walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day; ideally we should aim for 10,000 steps! As a result of this activity it stands to reason our feet sometimes develop problems. This year’s fashionable ballet pumps and canvas shoes with thin soles offer little or no support. This can change the way you walk and encourage your arches to drop, resulting in strain on your knees and back. A shoe with a low broad heel is a more comfortable option.

Up to 50% of women have bunions often caused when the bone under the first toe becomes displaced and shifts towards the smaller toes, resulting in a bunion. In warm conditions bunions swell, become red and tender and impact on the way we walk, causing the big toe to put pressure on the adjacent toe, which sometimes results in a painful ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail is caused by the nail growing directly into the skin, often due to cutting the nail too short and not cutting it straight across. If there is infection, seek medical help to treat the condition.

Wearing high heels can cause problems by putting pressure on the ball of your foot, and weakening the ankle area. Although high heels create a natural arch your foot is constantly at an angle, plus wearing heels shortens the calf muscles (back of the lower leg) leaving the backs of your legs feeling stiff at the end of the day.
Flat feet (pes planus or fallen arches) are a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. Many people simply inherit flat feet from their parents. Usually there’s nothing to worry about, but just sometimes the condition causes pain in the feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, hips or the lower back. Or there may be an underlying problem with the bones, muscles or connective tissues in and around the feet. Talk to your GP if your feet are rolling inwards too much (over pronation), or appear to be getting flatter, and if your feet are weak, numb or stiff. Occasionally flat feet can be the result of the connective tissue in the foot becoming stretched and inflamed, possibly as a result of overuse, supportive footwear, an injury, increasing age, obesity or rheumatoid arthritis.

Your GP may refer you to a podiatrist (a specialist in foot problems) or an NHS orthopaedic surgeon to discuss possible treatments.

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