Leonardo da Vinci said the “human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art,” which it is. The foot has with a complex network of 26 bones, 37 joints, more than 100 ligaments, some 20 muscles, thousands of nerve endings, tendons and tissues uniquely designed to withstand pounds of pressure and stress.

Whether you are active or inactive, feet and lower legs bear it all. I weigh about 160 pounds, which means 160 pounds of force when standing!

Do you stand a lot?

When I walk my body deals 240 to 280 pounds of force, and when I run my body deals 320 to 480 pounds of force. All this force is supported by size 10 feet.

As Da Vinici observed, feet are designed to take the pressure. Now consider this: how is your foot wear designed to promote the health of your foot and subsequently your entire body?

What surfaces are you walking and running on; asphalt or snow pack? Do you have pain anywhere? Do you have dry and cracked heels or calluses on the outside of your big toe, or on the pads of the sole of your feet? What about ingrown toenails?

Take a moment to think about this. Is your footwear interfering with the health of your feet?

Wearing shoes that are too small is most common; I have to stop myself from approaching complete strangers to tell them if they simply wore a size where their toes wouldn’t have to curl up they’d be preventing foot problems down the trail. Before buying footwear take a good look at your whole foot, meet your foot, look between toes, at the shape of each toe and toe nails, meet the bottom of your foot – what do you notice?

Match your foot problems, such as, calluses to the wear on your shoes. Socks and shoes that retain moisture add a whole other dynamic. (Sniff sniff – know what I mean?) Take a moment to dry out all footwear.

Athletes and dancers who prefer to wear tight fitting footwear in order to “feel” the court, deck, track or trail do hurt their feet.

Socks are also a big deal, socks that are too short or tight squish toes toward each other; encouraging the nails to grow into the skin. This is especially true if you are a fan of clipping toenails too short. Short nails with sharp edges combined with tight, moisture retaining socks and narrow toed shoe will lead nail growth toward the inviting pinched flesh at the sides of the toe.

This April start thinking of toenails as bumpers, with a protective function. Give your toes the space to work for you. Practice shifting from cutting to filing. Tip: To avoid splitting and jagged edges file nails following the shape of the toe to a length where the free edge is visible above the skin. Start to take a moment every day to meet, nourish and take care of your hard working feet. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society recommend feet and toes exercises. Check out my website www.WalkonFootCare.com and look under resources for examples.