Oh my aching feet!

Ever come home at the end of a long day, flop in a chair exhausted, so spent you can hardly move? You collect yourself for a couple of minutes, then reach down and remove your shoes. After resting a bit without your shoes you find yourself better, rejuvenated. You knew just how tired you were, but you didn't realize how tired your feet were. Unfortunately, most of us are not going to give up fashion for the sake of our feet! Unfortunately, just as it seemed fashion and more comfortable shoes were coming together, fashion reared its ugly head and comfort once again is out the window.

Studies show that 76 percent of all Americans experienced some kind of foot problem over that last year and our foot wear is a major contributor. Of course, some of the foot problems we experience are from other causes such as injury, genetics, obesity and the general wear and tear of daily activities -- but the shoes we wear remain the number one culprit. The average person confines their parched feet in shoes for up to seventeen hours a day, sending temperatures soaring to nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to say nothing of the contortions ours shoes put our feet through.

Here are some ''foot facts'' that may give you pause the next time you think about pouring your foot into some high-heeled fashion statement for hours on end. And hey, let's not leave you guys out with your pointy-toed high-heeled cowboy boots!--

The foot is an incredibly intricate piece of anatomy bearing our weight and giving us a ground to the earth.--

The foot is generously equipped with 26 bones, 36 muscles, 33 joints and a half a mile each of blood vessels and nerves.--

In a typical day of walking, the foot takes about 8,000 steps.--

Over a lifetime, the foot walks four times around the world and withstands a force equal to several hundred tons.

Want to have more energy at the end of the day? Want to avoid pain, deformity and possible surgery on your feet later in life? Consider the following:--

Limit the amount of time you spend in all shoes but especially in ''fashionable'' shoes that are simply unhealthy for your feet.--

If you stand for a living, cushion the area you stand on.--

Take breaks when you can, sit and stretch -- especially your legs, lower back and feet.--

Keep your posture as erect as you can at all times.--

If you stand, walk or in anyway make your living being on your feet, choose exercise programs that get you off your feet such as swimming, bicycling, floor exercises. No more pounding on your feet please!--

Don't wait for warts, corns and callouses or nail fungus to become painful before they get your attention. If you can't manage them yourself, consider seeing the foot doctor.--

Many shoes can be made more supportive and comfortable by adding flexible arch supports.--

At the end of a long day try a foot bath of baking soda, vinegar and Epson salts. Soak 10-15 minutes in hot or warm water, whatever feels best. Dry the feet briskly with a towel then massage with lotion or oil. Knead the feet giving sore spots more attention. --

Try some sessions of reflexology.

Taking care of your feet is as essential to good health as eating correctly, proper rest or seeing your doctor.

Till next time, Rebecca

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online August 22, 2000

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