Podiatry Fun Facts

Welcome to the new New Step Podiatry website! I don’t think there are too many ‘gross’ foot pictures so please have a look around and let me know what you think. Expect to hear a lot more from New Step Podiatry in 2019 as we grow our online presence. Exciting times! If you have any topics you want me to explore in the blog, comment below. Check out the heel crack article for a crackin’ read.

To kick things off, let me answer some foot related questions you may have thought about but never had a Podiatrist close at hand (or foot) to ask.

What is Podiatry?

It’s more than just feet! It’s a branch of medicine that investigates, diagnoses, treats, manages and prevents medical conditions of the lower limbs. The lower limbs are the hips down but we often assess the whole body to determine why there is a problem further down. We consult the very young to the very old to people with a temporary condition such as a bruised heel to those with a chronic condition such as diabetes. We deal with all the layers of the body; skin, toenails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, blood vessels, nerves. It’s very much a profession that covers all aspects of foot, ankle and lower limb health.

So many interesting layers

Why Do We Even Have Toenails?

We tend to use our fingernails a lot more than our toenails which makes us wonder why we have toenails apart from being an evolutionary leftover. Our toes are full of blood vessels, nerve endings and tendons. Toenails create a hard film to protect these sensitive structures.

Toenails also assist in telling you what position you are in. The pressure between the flesh of the toe and the toenail helps to communicate to our brain what we are doing. For example, if you stand on your tippy toes you can feel a much higher pressure underneath your toenails compared to when you are leaning back onto your heels.

Why don’t podiatrists push back the cuticle but a pedicurist does?

The cuticle at the base of the toenail is there to create a barrier to prevent bacteria and fungus from entering the nail structure. By removing excessive cuticle, you are removing the body’s natural defence to infection. Loose cuticle skin can be removed as this skin isn’t reducing the risk of infection.

Don’t push it back too far!

What is a corn?

Corns are thickened layers of skin that at first develop to make the skin more resilient to pressure. Thicker skin means you can absorb more force, but, that same thicker skin may get too thick or be in a tender area and cause pain. Podiatrists can easily remove corns, but they will come back if the excessive pressure is still there. Addressing the cause of the excessive pressure is a preventative measure to corn development.

My mum has/had bunions, will I get them too?

I don’t know, try shaking a magic 8 ball to get an answer (jokes). The cause of bunions is multifactorial so there are many different factors that contribute to whether someone will develop bunions or not. Genetics are definitely one of those factors. If you are 50 years old or older and don’t have bunions chances are you won’t develop bunions or if you do it will be a small enlargement that won’t give you too much grief.

The size of a bunion doesn’t directly dictate how painful they are, so this person may be in no pain at all

What is orthotic therapy?

Foot orthoses are devices that are inserted into shoes to redistribute forces associated with the foot and lower limb to improve the functioning of your joints, muscles and ligaments. The feeling of improved alignment is often reported. Orthoses aim to reduce pain, prevent injuries and increase foot and leg comfort.

Why do my feet hurt more standing than walking?

When you are standing fewer muscles are being used whereas walking involves a greater number of muscles to take on effort and weight bearing load. Those standing muscles get fatigued and tell you about in the form of discomfort and pain.

My baby has just started walking and his/her feet are really flat, is that normal?

Absolutely, flat feet are a normal part of development. Humans start to walk before they have fully formed all their bones and supporting structures so there is no visible arch. If flat feet persist and your child reports pain, a limp or walks asymmetrically, please see a podiatrist.

One normal flat footed step after another

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