Do You Think That Your Feet Are Embarrassing?
As a footcare specialist I have seen, first hand, how treatable podiatric conditions can blight people’s lives by impeding daily life and causing pain, there is also the stress and anxiety caused by the embarrassment of having unsightly feet.
It could be that an individual has a tendency towards podophobia. Taken from ancient Greek, the word literally means fear of feet. This phobia is rarely so severe that it should require specialist help. It is most commonly just not wishing to be near or even looking at other people’s feet. It can however include a person’s own feet. In such cases it usually manifests itself as simply being self-conscious or embarrassed by the sight of one’s feet.
The Importance of Understanding Your Feet
So, your feet, what about them? You will surely know how vital they are in your day to day life. However, your feet are probably more amazing than you realize. Feet, just as with every other part of the human body, has evolved over millennia to what they are today, an evolutionary marvel of anatomical engineering.
Nature has deemed that some animals should evolve in such a way that feet, and indeed legs, have become unnecessary. The evolution of some other animals has not reached that point, but has left the legs and feet as nothing more than vestigial appendages, as is the case with the swift, its legs and feet no longer support or mobilize it on a flat surface, hence they spend most of their lives on the wing.
For humans, evolution chose the feet to be an essential part of function and mobility, and indeed survival. It has created one of the most complex and robust aspects of the human body. Your body has 206 bones, all of which are vital in their own way, 52 of these bones are to be found in your feet, that’s 25% of your body’s bone structure in the 2 small appendages at the end of your legs. Add to this over 100 ligaments and tendons and it is easy to see that your feet are very complex mechanisms.
Your Feet, Your Vulnerable Appendages
Given the complexity of our feet and our reliance on them, it does seem somewhat incomprehensible that they should be treated so casually by so many people, feet are so often taken for granted. Every day you swing your feet through the air with complete carefree abandon, you shrug off the knocks, the bumps and the scrapes with hardly a second thought. Out of eyeline and usually covered, you rarely take any notice of the risks they are exposed to, or the damage that may be being done to them.
Your feet have evolved to exist in their naked state, for most of your waking day you probably choose to cover your feet with shoes and socks. This is the point at which potential damage to your feet starts. I see many, perceived as embarrassing, podiatric problems that have been caused by footwear, problems that were avoidable. Poorly fitting shoes and the desire to follow the modern, fashionable trends, all too often, leads to problems. Many of my clients are embarrassed by these problems which can be painful, and in some cases debilitating.
Of course, in today’s busy world footwear has become a necessity, the chances are that your feet will only get exposed on sunny days in the garden or on the beach. Although this may feel good, it is something which is no longer natural to you, and so your feet are open to even greater risk of physical trauma as you walk, run or enjoy physical activities barefoot. Podiatric problems resulting from injuring a bare foot are common, many complaints are easily corrected, but in some cases on-going treatment is necessary.
But it’s not just footwear or trauma that can create podiatric problems. I treat many patients that have inherent conditions which are no fault of their own. This could be as minor as an ingrowing toenail, or more complex issues related to bone structure or to circulatory problems. Sickness and disease can also play a major part in the overall health of your feet. Diabetics are in the high-risk group, as are HIV sufferers and anyone with a condition that leads to circulatory issues.
Reluctance in Seeing a Footcare Specialist
Being aware of the risks to your feet that everyday life throws at them, and of the significant bearing that your overall health can have on your feet, is vital. The second essential aspect to maintaining healthy feet is being aware of the early signs of a problem. At this point, action should not be put off. If you feel sick, you will seek help from a doctor, just because your feet are out of sight and out of mind does not mean they should be ignored.
Most people accept this as sound advice, but for some there is another hurdle to overcome, their own self-consciousness and embarrassment due to the visual condition of their feet. You are unlikely to put off a visit to the doctor because a rash or outbreak of spots looks bad, so why put off a visit to your local footcare specialist? It certainly seems irrational, but it is a sad truth. Feet can instill peculiar reactions in people.
My experience has taught me that embarrassment is one of the key factors in chiropodial ailments being left untreated, causing the problem to magnify through lack of professional attention. The decision to neglect an issue is sure to lead to more extensive or ongoing treatment. As a result, what may have been a minor condition, easily and effectively treated, can become a much more serious issue.
Many of my clients seek my help once a condition has become intolerable and is interfering with their daily lives to such a degree that they take what they see as the “Last resort”. That last resort is to visit me at my clinic in Loughborough and, often coyly, seek my help. Many of my clients are almost apologetic at the condition of their feet, believing I will be horrified, or even repulsed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
My Own Unique Approach and Understanding
I understand the psychological impact feet can have on a person’s psyche. So many people see their feet as ugly, disfigured appendages which they dislike the look of, and so assume others will feel the same, and this psychological impact should not be understated. It is my belief that a person’s state of mind towards their feet is as important as the physical care and treatment they deserve.
As a skilled footcare specialist and a Member of the British Association of Foot Health Professionals (MAFHP) and a Member of the College of Foot Health Professionals (MCFHP) I have been trained to diagnose and treat all manner of podiatric problems. I have a strong belief in the importance of the health of your feet, but my concerns don’t stop there.
I am acutely aware of the psychological dilemmas some people face when they are trying to come to terms with a problem, be it a minor issue or a more complicated disorder. Self-consciousness and embarrassment can be difficult to overcome and I never underestimate the impact this can have on an individual.
I have my approach to this non-insurmountable hurdle. If you think you are too embarrassed of your feet to seek my help, then you are already aware of a problem with them. Knowing you have a problem with your feet shows that you have already traversed the first hurdle.
Knowing that you have an issue which requires treatment, the next step is to make a no obligation appointment with me. Initially I will listen, I am happy to hear, not only about what physically ails you, but also of your anxieties. I realize that for some people the anxieties can run deep and can, in themselves, be as debilitating as the physical condition.
There are people that require time to overcome the psychological barriers that have stopped them seeking treatment earlier. I understand this and allow all my clients to take the time that they need to feel comfortable with me in relation to their podiatric problem. This is a road of learning along which we travel together, building a relationship of trust and understanding.
As my client’s trust and understanding grow, so does their confidence, both in themselves and in me as their foot care specialist. When, and only when, my clients feel confident enough will I suggest that they should allow me to undertake a full and proper diagnosis of their problems.
It is likely that a degree of embarrassment will still exist. But through our mutual trust and understanding, together we can reduce that embarrassment to manageable levels. Together we break down the anxieties that have been a barrier to you enjoying your life with healthy feet that will no longer cause you to be self-conscious of your feet.
Treatment for your physical problems is best served with a full and comprehensive understanding of your emotional outlook towards your feet. My bi-lateral approach of understanding the physical and emotional issues has reaped tremendous rewards for my clients.
So, to make the most of your feet and to enjoy your foot health, contact me, Rebekah Henning, at Feet@Theclinic in Loughborough Leicestershire. Together we will travel the road to better foot health, self-confidence and life enjoyment.