Most people never think about their feet until something goes wrong or starts hurting. But a little knowledge and forethought can prevent some of the most common foot problems. And when something goes really wrong, it will be helpful if you have a basic understanding of the possible causes, the anatomy of the foot and ankle, and basic things you can do before contacting a physician.
The first human being stood upright about 1 million years ago. Then when our feet took on a double load, they freed our hands for other things and civilization was born. With it came shoes - first, simple skin sandals that protected feet from cold and injury. But since those early times, shoes have more often been worn for status and style than comfort and function.
Early Greek and Oriental actors used platform shoes to make the main character on state stand above the supporting players. In sixteenth-century England, male dandies wore shoes with extremely pointed toes. And although it nearly crippled them, years ago upper-class Chinese women bound their feet so they could wear tiny shoes - a sign of being well bred!
Today's high heels are almost as rough on modern women's feet, so it's no surprise that 80% of all foot problems occur in women.
But men's feet haven't fared too well either. The stresses and inactivity of contemporary life often lead to obesity. And if those extra pounds weren't enough to make a pair of feet ache, the out-of-shape, weekend athlete doesn't always wear the right shoes for the right activity. The result, often as not, is a foot problem or two. And wearing improper footwear on the job not only causes painful problems for the worker, but contributes to thousands of hours of downtime - which translates into the loss of millions of dollars - in industry each year.
Fortunately, most foot problems can be prevented. Just follow the Golden Rule: Be good to your feet . . . and they'll be good to you.