Issue 40 - May 2010 | Archive

Are you foot friendly?

Is fear and anxiety holding you back?

The foot is one of the most complex pieces of our anatomy. Podiatrists and chiropodists are the members of the NHS Careers team who work with patients of all ages to help keep feet happy and healthy.

Chris is 10. When he started missing PE lessons, his teacher asked him if anything was wrong. He explained to her that his feet hurt, and he found it difficult to keep up with the other children. Chris’s teacher arranged for him to see the Tracy, the school nurse. After checking Chris’s height and weight, Tracy asked him a few questions about when his feet had started hurting.

Tracy explained to Chris that some of the problems he was having were because he needed to lose a bit of weight. The way that young people’s feet develop can change when they become overweight, and can sometimes cause pain. Tracy sent Chris home with a letter for his mum, suggesting an appointment with a dietitian, and also a visit to the foot clinic. His mum arranged an appointment with the GP, who referred Chris.

Ben, the dietitian saw Chris after school one day. He and Chris worked together to write a food diary of all the things Chris ate in a week. They identified some snacks and types of food that it would be better for Chris to cut out. Ben also recommended getting more exercise, so Chris knew it was important to get his feet sorted out.

At the foot clinic, Justine, the podiatrist took a look at Chris walking up and down. She showed him how he was walking on the inside of his feet. His old, soft favourite trainers weren’t helping much either- Justine showed how they had worn away on the inside of the heel and were making his movement worse, and would probably make his knees hurt too. She gave Chris some insoles to put in his shoes, and explained that wearing trainers all the time didn’t give Chris’s feet enough support. Although he needed to do more exercise, Justine suggested activities such as swimming- a good workout with less stress on the feet.

Justine also arranged for Chris to see a physiotherapist, who gave him some exercises to do to strengthen some of the muscles in his legs. He practised with the physiotherapy assistant to make sure he knew how to do them correctly, and then was able to carry on at home.

Over the next couple of months, Chris worked hard at eating healthily and exercising regularly. He even managed complete his 500metre swimming badge. He visited the weight clinic every six weeks, and Ben was happy with his progress. Justine was also really pleased when Chris told her that he was able to join in football games at school, and best of all, he had some new trainers.

Foot facts

  • The 52 bones in your feet make up about a quarter of all the bones in your body
  • The average adult takes 4000 to 6000 steps a day and our feet carry us the equivalent of five times round the earth in an average lifetime
  • Our feet have 250,000 sweat glands and the average pair gives off about half a pint of perspiration per day