Keeping Fit - Feet First


Every motor vehicle, even those with the most electronically sophisticated 21st century engines, will have needed regular, routine servicing to have travelled safely and smoothly for around 130,000km. And over this distance they will have certainly needed several new sets of tyres.


This is also about the distance that the average walker will chalk up in a lifetime; that’s a circumnavigation of the earth three times. But of course, we only have one pair of feet - and there’s no chance to renew them, even once. So, taking care of our feet becomes a really important issue as a part of our body’s health maintenance program.


Even common and what often seem like comparatively trivial foot conditions can become serious if not treated effectively, or better still prevented. So we need to keep our feet fit - functioning well, and free from corns, calluses and infections.


The “best medicine” is often said to be laughter; but Hippocrates, the great grandfather of the medical profession (he lived more than 2000 years ago) stated that “walking is man’s best medicine”. He may not have always been spot-on for evidence-based information, but this advice has survived the test of time.


How you walk, where you walk and what you wear when you’re walking is important too. Barefoot running and walking has become popular; but for most of us there would be a real risk of infections and foreign bodies embedded in the foot. With well-designed footwear, walking is a pleasant and reasonably easy way to maintain overall physical fitness.


Nevertheless, the feet can fairly be described as quite complicated pieces of machinery. Fifty-two bones, a quarter of all the body’s bones, are in the feet; and on a nice summer’s day the feet produce around 500ml of perspiration by way of the 250,000 sweat glands.


Of course all that perspiration can produce a few problems of its own. The warm, moist environment enclosed within either our joggers or business shoes can lead to some nasty fungal infections – infections that will become more visible when summer temperatures require the frequent wearing of sandals and open-toed shoes. Athlete’s foot is certainly not exclusive to athletes’ feet. We are all potential sufferers.


Fortunately, effective treatments for fungal infections of the foot are now available. However, the secret of success is persistence and perseverance. Products such as Canesten, Clonea, Daktarin, Lamisil, Nizoral, Resolve or Solveasy – available in various forms: creams, gels, sprays and lotions – need to be used appropriately to get best results and to prevent recurrence of infection.


Fungal infections of the nail, particularly the toe nail, can be somewhat more difficult to eradicate. Onychomycosis is the medical term to describe this condition, but the more colourful description of “nail rot” is sometimes used. If your nails are yellow, cracked or crumbling, then you may be one of the 800,000 or so Australians with a fungal nail infection.


There are a couple of ways to get rid of nail rot; but it does require a commitment. Severe infections may require a prescription-only medication, while moderately infected nails usually respond well to topical treatments. Of these, the convenient, once or twice-a-week treatment with Loceryl nail lacquer seems to offer the best results.


And don’t forget your canine companion. If walking is man’s best medicine and the dog is man’s best friend, taking the dog for a regular walk should keep six feet happy and healthy.