Friday 17 November 2017

Take a big step to taking better care of your feet

Some feat: Gerry finishes last year’s Dublin Marathon.
Some feat: Gerry finishes last year’s Dublin Marathon.

Gerry Duffy

Imagine crossing the world four times on foot. Sound impossible? Well a simple fact in my next paragraph might surprise you.

Often when we hear reports about whatever, they will quote the 'average' person. Well did you know the 'average' person will cover 115,000 miles on foot in their lifetime? This is the equivalent of circling the world four times. Throw a 'fitness enthusiast' into the survey and I imagine it would result in a fifth or even a sixth circumnavigation.

It was only when I started consciously thinking about how important my feet are to me, that my focus changed. It was a specialist in this field who was responsible for this heightened awareness.

Last week I spent an hour or more in a chair, having my feet overhauled by an expert. It was an eye opener. The toolkit for starters was like a mechanic's pit. It had blades, nippers, sanders and nail files. My feet were immersed in plastic bags, warm boots, and the piece de resistance was paraffin wax. Its role? To moisturise the skin and help relax the muscles. It was an impressive session and all with a view to giving my feet a full makeover and restoration.

After all, each foot is home to 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Did I mention the 250,000 sweat glands?

Some deeper research identified a statistic related to running, which tangibly highlights the involvement and the impact of every stride. Did you know that the pressure on feet when running can be as much as four times the runner's body weight? For me, that equates to 700 pounds. Yikes!

The same website also informed me that women walk – on average – three miles more every day than their male counterparts. But then, ladies, you probably knew that already.

From the moment I get out of my bed every day, until I return 15 or 16 hours later, I will take – on average – 10,000 steps. Astonishing! Take my feet away in fact, and I can do very little. The specialist was encouraging me to look after mine; and better than I have been.

During the treatment, I enquired as to how many of his clients are runners, cyclists or 'more than average' sports enthusiasts; people who use their feet even more than the average person. I asked him how many are swimmers, show jumpers, gymnasts, kick boxers, basketball players, skiers, sailors or racket players. Walkers, cross trainers, mountaineers, or mountain bikers. People, who rely hugely on their feet to make a vital contribution to their sporting ambitions?

He could count only a few, and in doing so expressed astonishment at how little care, or acknowledgement, sports enthusiasts give these vitally important limbs. Interestingly though, he did cite one client who is one of Ireland's leading triathletes. This person is a regular visitor to his treatment room. Success leaves clues.

I will close with a much used reference related to goal setting and achieving. It involves 'putting one foot in front of the other'. Well, to do so, you need your feet to co-operate.

Mind them. Be good to them. They bring you everywhere.

Twitter: @32marathons

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