Feet, feet, they are so neat.
They may smell smelly or they may smell sweet.
From a gentle stroll to a swift retreat,
You'll always do it better with well-kept feet.
It is so easy to just take feet1 for granted – there they are at the furthest extremity from your brain - and yet with a little thought and care, they can enhance your very existence. Just see how they affect our everyday lives:
Put your best foot forward - step out or approach a task with confidence
Feet first - enter into a task or conversation without caution
Dip your toe in the water - test the environment or mood before committing oneself
Get a foot in the door - create an opening (career, sales, relationship) which cannot easily be closed
Michael Foot - definition uncertain
Put your feet up - relax, chill, feel at home
Barefoot in the Park - a feeling of sensuality (also a drama)
Great feats of achievement - you know what they say – 'big feet... big shoes'
High heels - fashionable shoe style worn mostly be females (enhances the appearance of the leg through muscular tensioning)
Head over heels - whilst this is the normal aspect, often used as a metaphor for the tumbling feeling of being in love
Both feet on the ground - solid, dependable, practical, sensible (boring)
Walking on air / water / the moon - sensation of happiness / deity / police presence
Stand on your own two feet - don't rely on others for support
Think on your feet - be prepared to (metaphorically) change direction according to changing circumstances
Get cold feet - having dipped a toe in the water, find the situation uninviting and withdraw
Six feet under - interred or buried to the customary depth
Crow's feet - fine lines2 appearing at the corners of the eyes resembling the shape of a bird's foot.
Back on your feet - not a contortionist's trick, but recovered after being ill and having to lie down a lot
There are many theories relating to the evolution of the human foot, from chemical soup to fish, through snakes to birds, or via small furry creatures to homo sapiens (and many more on the future of the foot due to lack of use or ill-fitting shoes).
Rather than subscribe to any of these and risk offending those with devout religious beliefs or supporters of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, this report takes the view that feet have been (and will continue to be) here for as long a period of time as is relevant to our readers.
The foot is a very effective regulator of body temperature due to the blood vessels, which pass very close to the surface, radiating heat and thereby cooling the blood. This is often put into practice by kicking off the shoes at work3, dangling the feet in a pool or stream, or by sticking a foot out from under the bed covers4. All of these actions are known to have a beneficial cooling effect, reducing tiredness or producing restful sleep.
Conversely, overly cold or damp feet can be very uncomfortable indeed and so they need insulating against these conditions. Various articles of clothing5 are used for this purpose, according to the weather conditions, terrain and degree of protection required. One of the most effective forms of damp proofing for feet is the Wellington Boot, as celebrated by the Scottish comedian6, Billy Connolly, in a song with a chorus, which goes something like
Ef et wesnay fer yer wellies7,
Where whid ye be?
Ye'd be in the hospital, or infirmaree.
Ye'd prob'ly have a dose o' the flu
Or even pleurisee,
Ef ye didnay have yer feet in yer we-llies.
There are various types of healthcare professional who look after different aspects to do with your feet –
Chiropodist - Primarily concerned with the health of the feet
Podiatrist - Primarily concerned with the performance of the feet
Physiotherapist - Concerned with whole body's performance
Reflexologist - Uses the feet to treat the whole body
Such professionals will often use or recommend creams, potions and lotions from simple cooling gels to anti-fungal treatments. Many are qualified to perform minor surgery involving local anaesthetics to remove corns, callouses, bunions, verrucae and other nasties.
Foot care is particularly important for diabetics. Being an extremity, they are an effective early warning system for the onset of neuropathy. Tests for loss of sensitivity to pressure, temperature, etc can be very beneficial in preventative care being prescribed.
In more advanced diabetes, the feet must be protected from infection, as the reduced circulation can result in ulcers developing, leading to some pretty gory surgery or even (in the worst cases) amputation!
If you look after your feet, they will look after you.