How to look after your feet should be pretty simple. Most of us are fortunate to have two feet, to get us from A to B. But instead of appreciating them, our feet get bashed around in trainers and high heels, walk miles until they get blisters and generally put up with a lot of abuse. Just like other mammals, our feet are made to walk and balance (we have 26 bones on each foot, the big toe is for balance). Baby feet are just growing fat pads, which is why they look so cute. And nails are made from keratin (the same stuff as in a rhino’s horn).
How Animals Use Their Feet
- Flamingos have a unique foot/knee design, to stand comfortably on one leg, for a long time (their feet inspired human shoes). This is Jasper inspecting his socks to heal foot lesions, before joining 3000 flamingos in the Caribbean.
- Elephants cause ‘mini-explosions’ when their feet hit the ground, which causes elephants to hear from far away (a bit like megaphones).
- Ostriches (the largest birds on earth) have unique toes (one for standing, one for balance). This is why they can run 40 miles an hour, and kill you with one kick. Their foot design influences prosthetics.
- Gecko lizards have sticky feet. Just like those toys you would throw at the wall, their feet have tiny hairs they can make sticky on demand.
- Rhinos have tiny feet that can support huge body weights.
- Penguins have exposed feet, to regulate their body temperature.
- Mountain goats have ‘cloven hooves’. But they can still fall; the homeopathic remedy arnica (not safe for everyone, so check before use) was discovered, when shepherds tried to heal bruises of their flock.
- Cats walk silently on the balls of their feet, in order to hunt. It’s not true they always ‘right themselves’ when landing; many have been injured in falls. So people invented Flat Cat & Cataire window guards.
Look After Your Feet
- Unless diabetic, try to go barefoot when you can. Walk by placing your heel down then ‘roll through the toes’ (like paddling a canoe). Swinging the arms is for balance (see items to help Parkinson’s patients, who can’t swing their arms). Don’t wear flops all the time (when you do, rubber flops biodegrade, if they fall in the sea).
- Wear breathable socks made from cotton, hemp or bamboo (if they have elastane, wash in a GuppyFriend to stop synthetic fibres reaching the sea). This and choosing breathable vegan shoes (alternate each day to let them dry out) should solve most ‘stinky foot’ problems. Use handmade soap with tea tree or lemongrass. Avoid toxic odour-eaters and use Purggo (charcoal) or used charcoal water filters.
- For fungal infections, ingrown toenails and athlete’s foot, just follow the tips above, and gradually cut off the infected parts (it takes months to grow out, as toenails grow slower). Tea tree oil is not usually effective and can irritate some people (avoid near pets & children, and on broken skin). Choose natural nail polish (and let nails go bare now and then).
- For corns, calluses & dry skin, just soak and gently pumice it off. Veruccas (foot warts) are viral, have your GP freeze them.
- Let fluid drain from blisters, then cover with a a biodegradable plaster.
- Gout can cause severe pain. NHS suggests raising the limb and applying ice (drink water, take gentle exercise and avoid alcohol & smoking). Brandi helped her husband’s gout with these recipes.
- Bunions are often hereditary (or due to bad shoes). London Foot & Ankle Centre has pioneered a lower-risk surgery that leaves a titanium wire in the patient’s foot for 4 weeks. London podiatrist Dr Tariq Khan (inspired by his father’s Marigold Therapy) has an ointment to help reduce pain for bunions.
- Reflexology presses meridian points that correspond to organs, to help ailments. For ticklish feet (or amputees), work on hands instead.
- NHS says not to cover a baby’s feet or head, as this can lead to higher risk of crib death, in warmer temperatures.
If you no longer need a prosthetic (or have sadly lost a relative who used one), donate it to charities that help others. Ed Pennington-Ridge has created a simple prosthetic limb for developing countries, with a springy foot and mobile ankle. Many people lose limbs due to accidents or landmines (elephants often step on them and lose limbs). The Halo Trust is helping rid the world of landmines.
I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet. Saʿdī, Persian poet
The job of feets is walking. But their hobby is dancing. Amit Kalantri