These feet were made for walking. It’s not just a song; it’s the basis for a lot of Jeddie Russell’s work at WalkOn Foot Care, Whitehorse’s new foot care clinic located in the log skyscraper.

While the clinic might be new, Russell has spent many years expanding and sharing her understanding the workings of the foot. She’s been a student, a nurse, an educator, and most importantly, a passionate believer that feet have an important role in our overall health.

“Feet are the root,” Russell said. “We’re grounded on our feet. What’s going on in your feet is going on elsewhere. Once you access people’s feet, it’s an access to their health.”

Russell’s services include foot assessments, foot care, massage, reflexology, and plenty of education about how to manage your feet, and by extension, other aspects of your health. While she does hands-on work in her clinic, her business is also built on expanding our health care options.

“I want all Yukoners to have access to foot care.” This means not only working directly with individuals, but also teaching groups and helping organizations and governments access and offer foot care.

Russell’s business has partly grown out of a gap in the range of care in the territory.

“We don’t have podiatry or chiropody in the Yukon,” she explained. “We do have orthopedic surgeons and we do have physiotherapists who are filling in a lot of the gap.

“They’re doing orthotics and a lot of the functional foot stuff. I do a lot of functional foot stuff.”

By functional foot stuff, she’s referring to enabling feet to do the job they were supposed to do, such as flex, work, and help us balance on various surfaces and terrain. More on that later.

Part of the foot care continuum also includes relaxation, comfort and pain reduction, some of which are typically done by pedicurists.

Russell explained, “Even though the salon industry doesn’t have any medical training they’re filling a lot of the niche and, from my perspective, they can be part of the solution.”

An important aspect of Russell’s service is offering education. This can happen one-on-one in the clinic.

“The first appointment is over an hour. I might just see you once and that would be ideal.”

She explained that in that initial visit, she can convey many self-care and preventative practices that will help you immediately.

“Ideally, I’d get people when they’re young, but instead I get them when they’re older and in pain.”

She also focuses on preventative care.

“There are a lot of things you can do, no matter what age. If you’re a preteen skateboarder, you’ll have some typical running shoe problems and there’s some prevention you can do. A 50-year-old man can prepare for his 60s or 70s.”

Russell is committed to helping people find the right care.

“I’m not saying I’m the answer, but I might be able to navigate that answer. Even if it’s to encourage people to keep finding the solution – because there is a solution. All of us get locked into a box or a paradigm in terms of the way we approach things.”

In addition to providing one-on-one assistance, Russell has taught groups of people for years and continues to do so. She is in the process of offering a classroom facility as part of her clinic.

“I recently taught a group of home care attendant students. Groups are cheaper for people, but it’s also collegial and many people do well in groups.”

Teaching groups has made Russell sensitive to some of the cultural attitudes towards feet. She told a story about teaching a group in a community and one older man just wouldn’t participate. Finally, when she urged him to take his turn, he said, ‘Well, I could never show my lower leg to Mrs. So-and-So beside me.’

“Feet are very private. You learn so much by practicing on people.”

She referred to another recent class where she opened by acknowledging that everyone has different attitudes to feet.

“I told them, ‘I love every pair of feet, but you don’t have to.’ I want to give people permission not to love them. I respect that.”

Though Russell didn’t discuss her business plans, she is well positioned for success with a seemingly endless source of potential clients. While she treats people with special conditions related to diabetes, sports and chemotherapy, quite simply, as long as people are wearing shoes, there will be issues relating to our feet.

“There’s a lot of foot binding going on,” Russell said. “People are putting their feet into very small, very rigid containers, very early on. The foot is a lot of bones and it wasn’t intended to be bound.”

By containers, she means shoes, and when shoes restrict the movement of feet, there are problems.

By contrast, the functional foot enables the body to function well.

“The functional foot is based on the idea that your foot will adjust to going uphill and downhill and on uneven surfaces,” Russell explained. “The foot is doing what it was designed for, but not in a container.”

“The overcorrected shoe became really popular, so the foot wasn’t able to do its job. When you take that job away from the foot then the body is adjusting somewhere else: below or above the knee, below or above the pelvis. Everyone will adjust differently.”

“The foot is actually perfect,” Russell believes.

Russell is a self-proclaimed education junkie and continues to learn all she can about feet. With a nursing background, a science degree, and a Master of Adult Education, she believes in lifelong learning, both for herself and her clients.

While her commitment to learning all she can about feet is a compelling reason to visit WalkOn Foot Care, equally convincing is Russell’s absolute dedication to feet.

“I love every pair of feet that I work on. I feel feet are sacred.

“When I sit at people’s feet, it’s more than a pleasure, it’s an honour.

For more information go to www.WalkOnFootcare.com or call (867) 689-7191.

Tips for cold hands and feet