Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Australian Podiatry Council Foot Health Month 2010

The Australian Podiatry Council has extended their annual promotion for healthy feet to a month long event. October is now Foot Health Month downunder and the main focus for this year is walking. Apparently Hippocrates wisely coined the phrase “Walking is the best medicine.” Hippocrates was a champion of the feet and is credited with the recognition the treatment of corns and calluses was only possible by physically reducing the hard skin (keratin) followed by removal of the cause. The wise old Greek invented skin scrapers for the sole purpose (excuse the terrible pun) which eventually evolved into surgical scalpels. Certainly a comfortable walk is not possible with painful corns and calluses and hence the role of podiatry. Despite the obvious health benefits of taking 30 minutes of excercise you might be surprised to learn walking is not as natural it appears. As bi-peds (two foot beings) we need to learn how to walk. Deportment or gait patterns are social conventions which change through the centuries but walking first recorded footsteps 3.5 million years ago has not changed. The origins of bipedal stance still remains a baffling subject with some anthropologists and biologist convinced our ancestors learned to walk on two feet whilst living in trees. Others remain less convinced. Walking on two legs is a basic human characteristic and we remain the only living species to copulate face to face standing on our two feet. Freud believed our soft round wobbly bits were determined by walking on two feet.

Walking and running are quite different but involve a stance phase and a swing phase. When walking, the stance phase (ground contact) accounts for 60% of a gait cycle followed by 40% swing (through). Up to middle distance running the cycle remains more or less the same but in running stance phase is reduced markedly as the swing phase increases and the time spent in dual support is reduced. Different musculature is necessary to run as opposed to walk and now researchers are hypothesising it took a few million more years for the running physique to evolve. They believe it was running, not walking, which forged the naughty bits. The development of the human foot predates the development of the human brain and gave early bipods a platform for lateral weight bearing and leverage for propulsion. To date no one is clear why this happened. However back to Foot Health Month and walking. Research shows people are more likely to keep walking, if they walk in company. The A Pod C promotion encourages people to visit the National Heart Foundation website and follow the links to walking.

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