Hallmark has us hooked. We celebrate every Day from All Fools to Groundhog’s to Columbus, a real misnomer, showing gratitude for everything except what we take most for granted – our feet. I propose we give our tootsies a holiday and declare Happy Feet Day.
Imagine the pressure those little bones endure everyday hauling our carcass around, not to mention those extra pounds we’ve been lugging since last Thanksgiving.
Good feet are gifts from above. I should know; I was not gifted.
I used to tell friends that I wore baby casts on each toe after my feet got run over by a truck. One look at my crooked toes and they believed my harebrained story.
My feet plagued me from the day I took my first steps. I went to a podiatrist, long before anyone knew what a podiatrist was. Good ol’ Dr Heffelfinger or Heffle”toe,” as we fondly called him. He explained that my big toe was shorter than the rest of my toes. To avoid face planting every step forward, I clawed the ground with my toes.
My grandma told me that having a second toe longer than the first one is a sign of intelligence and insight. My dad, however, swore I’d hang from trees by my toes and threatened to prove it, if I broke another window playing ball in the yard.
To make matters worse, I developed Ledderhose Disease, a thickening of the deep connective tissue, leading to nodules in the arches of my feet. Though a nuisance, the disorder, named after a German surgeon, Dr. Georg Ledderhose, triggers fond memories of my time living in Germany.
Yep, those 26 bones, 33 joints, 12 tendons, and umpteen muscles stretch like a suspension bridge over our arches, but get no credit. Feet carry the weight of the world and live in shoes – the most uncomfortable homes on earth. Women’s footwear – back breaking, toe crushing, pointed high heels – keep doctors rolling in dough for life.
Born with bad feet, I swore off fashion in my teens and worn tennis shoes everyday since then. I also wear orthotics. To prevent blisters between my toes, I bandaged every one until my French podiatrist solved the problem. He molded toe separators out of pink silicone. Now I wear silly putty between my phalangies.
While studying my off-balance, barefoot gait he declared, “Madame, you have no feet; you are walking on another pair of hands.”
According to leading sport podiatrist Dr. Murray Weisenfeld in The Runner’s Repair Manual, feet were never designed for walking or running. Feet evolved out of the fin of fish designed for swimming and later developed for grasping to let creatures squat on branches without falling out.
Don’t believe me read Christopher McDougal’s fascinating bestseller Born to Run, where he studies a hidden tribe of the world’s fastest, long distance runners, who race barefoot or in sandals.
So, go on. Don’t feel guilty. Give your tootsies a holiday. Kick off the heels. Forgo weight bearing tasks. Doing dishes, a no no. Cooking, over a hot stove, out of the question. Standing in line to buy groceries, pay bills, pump gas – absolutely forbidden. Lying on a couch and wiggling toes to smooth jazz is highly recommended. Mud baths are fine. Hot tubs excellent. Swimming supreme.
You really want to show appreciation for your feet? Walk barefoot across the grass in a sunbeam’s shadow. A card of praise in the mail would be nice too.