Keeping Your Feet Happy

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Do you have happy feet? And no! I am not talking about the movie with the tap-dancing penguins.

Our feet may be on of the most neglected and abused parts of our body. How can two such seemingly small and fragile appendages support the entire weight of our body? Well, with twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints and over one hundred tendons, ligaments and muscles our feet are more than meets the eye. These complex machines allow us to jump, sprint, slam dunk, pirouette and, yes, even stand upright without falling over. So what can you do to express your gratitude? Below are some suggestions about how to keep those priceless feet of yours happy and healthy.

Foot Hygiene

Feet stink. And with good reason! Each foot has over two hundred and fifty thousand sweat glands. Socks are there to help us deal with our sweaty feet (Ever tried wearing tennis shoes without socks? Not pretty) but they also can collect bacteria (if we don't keep them clean, of course) that can make our feet smell even worse. Clean and dry socks and shoes are a must. And clean and dry feet as well! Be honest. When's the last time you've really scrubbed your feet in the shower? I know what you're thinking: "But they are way down there. I'd have to bend down to get to them. And I can barely stand upright in the shower...". Believe it or not, ladies and gentleman, but standing in a shallow pool of dirty, soapy water washed off from the rest of your body does not count as cleaning your feet. Put in the extra effort: wash between your toes and avoid such unseemly hygiene problems as athlete's foot, plantar warts, and infected cuts and scrapes.

The Perfect Fit

Wearing shoes that don't fit will do more than pinch your feet. It can cause permanent foot deformity. Ever heard of a condition called hammertoe? It's when the second joint of your second, third or fourth toe remains in a permanently bent position. Like a hammer. You get it by shoving your feet into shoes that are too small, wearing high heels that are too high or cramming your toes in narrow, pointy shoes. Or claw toe - a condition that leaves your toes permanently clenched like a fist. You get the picture.

Buy shoes appropriate for the activity you're engaged in. Running shoes are great for cross country, not so great for basketball. A lot of foot and lower leg injuries are caused this way. And throw out your athletic shoes once they are worn in. Running shoes should be discarded after every 200 to 400 miles. The long-term health of your feet is worth the added expense.

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