April is Foot Health Awareness Month, which means it’s time to learn about podiatry and your feet.
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), a physician and surgeon who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Feet are complex anatomical structures. They stabilize the body, provide shock absorption, and propel us forward with every step. Your feet require expert care. Healthy feet are instrumental to overall health and well-being.
Podiatrists can focus on many fields, including surgery, sports medicine, wound care, pediatrics, and diabetic care. If you are a person with diabetes, it is vital that you see a podiatric physician at least twice a year for a check-up.
How Are Podiatrists Trained?
Podiatrists complete four years of foot and ankle training in a podiatric medical school, followed by three years of hospital-based residency training, which is similar to that undertaken by other physicians. Podiatrists may go on to complete fellowship training following their residency.
Podiatrists can earn board certification with advanced training, clinical experience, and by ultimately taking an exam.
Why Is Foot Health Important?
Good foot health is essential for an active life. Feet serve as the foundation for your entire body in terms of support, balance, posture, and overall well-being. Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
Fun Foot Facts
- 25% of bones in the human body are located in the feet, which are made up from 52 bones.
- With about 200,000 nerve endings per foot, your feet are constantly “talking” to your brain.
- There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in the feet; on average, they excrete around 1 cup of moisture every day.
- The average person walks about 10,000 steps a day. During a lifetime, that is enough steps to travel around the planet more than four times, which is equal to approximately 115,000 miles.
- There are times when you're walking that the pressure on your feet exceeds your body weight. When you’re running it exceeds 3 to 4 times your body weight.
- Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; lifelong patterns of wearing high heels often are the culprit.
- Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control, and promoting all-around well-being.
- 75% of Americans will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives.