Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Feet

It's so good to have happy feet: in fact if you think about it, there are so many parts of our body that do an amazing job each day and yet we never give them a moments thought: but when they go wrong, then it's like the end of the world! Think, just reading this now, or listening for the sounds of children in your house and if they're making the right sort of "noises"! Our feet fit into this category too: every day we use them and if we're into exercise then we bang them against the ground perhaps 10 to 15 thousand times a day! But when you stub a toe, then you're whole focus is changed in an instant.
I was reminded of feet yesterday when we had lunch with some friends in the hills: early on the conversation turned to Bunions! One lady was lamenting the fact that she was due to have surgery on her bunions in the near future and that life was currently fairly miserable with her throbbing joints. A male of the species joined in to add his Crocodile Dundee bit with, "That's not a bunion, THIS is a bunion" and demonstrated his plum-sized swellings at the base of his big toes! His, however, currently caused him no grief and he was able to jog happily in the recent 14k Run for a Reason. At which point our delightful hostess announced that she too was the owner of bunions as a result of her days as a Ballet dancer: at which point yours truly mumbled something about wearing sensible wide shoes .... and was met with the frosty reply that there was "No way" that she was about to give up wearing her beloved "Killer" heels! Which leads us to the point of what each of us could do to reduce the chances of having to undergo surgery to correct this often painful condition known as Bunions.
Unfortunately about 60% of people with bunions will have inherited the problem: the good news is that they can take preventative measures to reduced the inflammatory processes that will make them deteriorate, and that will make them painful.
The single most effective weapon we have for managing bunions is wearing appropriate, wide fitting footwear.
Many of the shoes we buy are of a narrow fitting for the fashionable look: however, what being fashionable means is that the bits of the foot that stick out more than they should - bunions - will constantly rub against the inner surface of the shoe. That creates inflammation over the bunion, and inflammation means swelling: swelling makes our friendly bunion even bigger and the process continues until pain forces us to remove our shoes!! If you want to really upset your bunion, then you not only force your lumpy foot into a narrow shoe, but then you also stand and walk on "tippy toes" - popularly known as high heels!!
So: to give your bunion a better life style, wear broader fitting shoes and never wear heels higher than 5cms. If you bunion becomes painful or seems a bit red, then ice it as you would any "sports related injury". Topical anti-inflammatory creams, or anti-inflammatory medication may be of benefit for some, but do check with your GP before taking them as they can have side effects. If you wish to wear narrow shoes, you do increase your risk of pain and possible surgery. You may get some help from using a "Shoe Tree" in your shoes: these can be custom made for you by a surgical boot maker and they are designed to mimic the shape of your forefoot and you leave them inside your shoes when not wearing them. The idea is to stretch the area of the shoe that covers your bunion, so that there is less pressure on the vulnerable area when wearing them out walking.
Some people can also benefit from wearing a night splint that attempts to gently stretch the big toe back into a straighter alignment: this too is a long term project and may help in avoiding surgical intervention, but it does need to be started young, and early in the course of the problem.
Finally, there is surgery: it does work .... mainly! However, foot surgery is painful and can take weeks to months to fully recover from: in my experience, of all the areas of the body to suffer after surgery, the foot has to be very high up on the list of slow "recoverers"!
So hands up all of you who want to start a new relationship with your feet? And how do you pamper your forgotten footsies?
Post Script:
On the subject of feet: the young bride and I have finally got over the virus infection that seems to have gone on for weeks: so this morning we did our first walk/trundle for about 5 or 6 kms. The morning was delightfully fresh after last nights rains as we jogged along the path by the beach: there were some magnificent white cumulus clouds and patches of stunning blue skies, and I was listening to the Rhapsody from the film August Rush on my Nano. I have to tell you that it was a moment of sublime beauty and wonder, so much so that I had tears in my eyes: life is beautiful, lets not waste it. Happy days.
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