GENERAL ARTICLES

Featuring Feet

Hugh Grant Rowell February 15 1934
GENERAL ARTICLES

Featuring Feet

Hugh Grant Rowell February 15 1934

Featuring Feet

GENERAL ARTICLES

Hugh Grant Rowell

THIS IS the story of hundreds, thousands, millions of feet—including yours and mine. Have you, by the way, ever been told the formula for a story? Here it is: First, get a hero. Second, get him into trouble. Then get him out of it. So our hero is a pair of feet—most any pair. Trouble? Well, rather! If all the aching arches in Canada were laid end to end, or side by side if you prefer, they might well form a bridge from Halifax, N. S., to Halifax, England. The usual time that feet give out on you is when you want to walk or dance with some particularly charming person, or would like your temper to lx* at its nicest. Which looks as if these feet astray were villains, and not innocents which need help. But you will have to take my word for it that feet, like children, grow up according to their environment. Feet, even those which stray farthest from the paths of rectitude, are more sinned against than sinning. So we must gallop or walk or drive or somehow go to the rescue of these feet, save them from themselves and the treachery of others. We must get our hero or heroine out of trouble. Toe-In WALK PROPERLY, wear proper shoes, and much of the battle is won. The foot that supported the Micmac as he chased the Nova Scotia deer was allowed freedom, was allowed to work. It was not, almost from birth, wrapped in ill-ventilated, stiff, tight coverings which curled the toes, impeded the circulation and raised general high jinks with it. Charlie Chaplin had not been bom; nor was soldiering popular enough so that the right-angled position of the feet —which was considered best for the soldier had become the fashion. Even today it is difficult to persuade a person that it is commendable to toe-in a bit. Feet parallel is the story, while standing or walking. The weight is borne on the front or cross arch not named for its effect on our tempers and on the outer side of the foot and heel. The inner side of the foot was never made to drag on the ground mournfully. Footprints on the sand, in the mud, or on the bathroom Hoor will tell the truth whether your feet are getting flattened to the first, second, or third degree, the last having the usual significance of being the acme. As for discomfort, your own feet will reveal the amount to you in a convincing fashion. Strangely, the amount of discomfort is not in direct proportion to the flatness of the arch or the dropping of the inner side plus turning outward. Feet in abnormal position work in a position of strain. The discomfort you suffer is really from foot strain, brought alx>ut by the wrongly directed efforts of muscles, sinews and bones. When foot strain comes, it means compulsory rest, often by special strapping and {»adding by your doctor till normalcy returns, with maybe footplates or other helps for a while. The older you are, the slower the return of foot happiness.

But there’s no need to be discouraged. Most feet can be helped in one way or another. But you’d better let the doctor decide how—it is faster and cheaper. The Shoe Dilemma SOMEONE IS always asking me about shoes. You will never have good feet without properly fitting shoes. There is no best shoe. Costs are based on either style or lasting qualities. You ought to be able to get a well-fitted, good-looking shoe at your own price. You can get a g(xxl fit, though at times you may have to rise in your wrath and slay a few people in order to do so. Here’s the trick of it. 'Fake a sheet of paper and make a pencil tracing of one of your feet on it. Cut out the tracing, marking it right or left. Then pay the other foot a similar compliment. Put the tracing in your purse or pocket, and off you go for a pair of new shoes. Pick out the style you like. Go through the usual ceremony of fitting. And after everybody has settled back happily, produce the tracings, lay each gently but firmly on the sole of the selected shoe—and you’ve either got a fit or the salesman will have one. How to lit a shoe with a high heel, little or no support on the inner side of the instep, and the weight all on the front arch, is a matter which science has not yet solved any more than how to wear a thirty-four coat on a forty-four chest. You can, after a fashion, pour yourself into it. But you will not go on your way rejoicing, even in a wheel chair. Yet, what is more beautiful than a fashionably clad foot! No mere scientist can help you in the dilemma. They are your feet and you have to live with them—though other persons have to live with you. You are, indeed, in a situation for compromise. Some shoes are reminiscent of the Black Hole of Calcutta. Snakeskin holds a foot breathless. You have air holes in a cage for a pet. Be kind to your feet as well as animals, if only because feet are sometimes called “dogs.” Plenty of fresh air and water is good for either kind of canines. Women’s shoes are much more sensible in this respect than men’s. Stockings are innocent-looking things. Women think of them in terms of allure. Men wear everything from zebra stripes to college colors. Stockings may have certain seams which can put you to many of the tortures of the Inquisition. A tight shoe pressing on a self-assertive seam can make you exquisitely unhappy. Too tight stockings will curl your toes, impede circulation and wear out rapidly at the toes. Too long stockings are as uncomfortable as the train on a very formal evening gown. This is something parents have failed to realize in the case of children who suffer and do not know the cause the long or short of it, we might aver. Once in a while a stocking gets too tight for the calf of the leg and leaves a red line and sore spot to mark the place of insult. Corns, callouses, bunions—which interfere with too many pilgrims’ progresses—and merely displeasing feet are the penalties of neglect. Wriggle Your Toes "DUT SUPPOSING your shoes and stockings are all they -*-* should be, there are a few more things which can be done most profitably. Feet get tired. So do you, if only because tired feet sap

nervous energy. Rest helps. But you can rejuvenate tired feet more rapidly if you know how. First of all, soap and warm water. Then rub with a towel that has a surface like an Airedale’s fur. The feet are better already. Then play “This Little Pig Went to Market” with your toes, picking them up one by one and moving each toe back and forth gently. Now move the whole foot up, down, back and forth at the joints. Or a gentle massage, always rubbing toward the body. Your feet will be in the seventh heaven and so will you. Then a clean pair of stockings. And another pair of shoes. You could change both every few hours profitably. If you have time, raise your feet on a stool. If you are a business man, have the office boy tell all visitors you are in conference, put your feet on your desk and relax. If this joyous routine does not restore your feet to the Elysian Fields, you had better ask your doctor what more should be done. Mild degrees of flat feet you can often cure by exercises. One high school friend of mine did the trick in three months. You can do those outward rolls and toe arching yourself. And you can pick up marbles to help the front arch. But I believe very sincerely that you will get better and faster Continued on page 32

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results by letting your doctor pick the exercises. Some feet, for example, need loosening at the joints before we start to build them up. For others this is unnecessary.

Corns vs. Comfort

A THLETE’S FOOT is almost fashion^able. Cleanliness is the first preventive. If you join the unhappy via the golf club, shoot the people in charge of the cleaning. In certain schools where it was a problem, each pupil walked through pans of a special disinfecting solution before using the swimming pool, and the naughty little fungi that caused the trouble turned over on their sides and died, tough fellows though they are. There are now excellent preparations for treating this itching, blistery reddening between the toes. The problem is to find one that will slay the parasites and not irritate the skin too much. Most preparations are based on salicylic acid, the same drug that is often used on corns, and which is also in our old ache killer, oil of wintergreen. It is a stalwart acid.

Cleanliness, it would seem, is the solution

to most of our foot ills. Walking correctly in well-fitted, well-ventilated shoes is most of the story. Bathing rather than soaking, frequent changes of shoes and stockings, passive motion and massages add more foot happiness. Most of the feet astray can therefore be led back to rectitude by comparatively gentle methods—or what is better, never allowed to stray from it.

Flat and otherwise disarrayed feet thrive under simple medical attention. If rheumatism is the story or really stubborn foot ills are present, the cause will have to be found and remedied.

Corns and callouses you will never cure without removing the cause, which is pressure from some source in the shoes or stockings. Bunions may require even more than this, the most offensive ones necessitating an operation.

Lastly, if you think there was joy over the return of the Prodigal Son or the One Lost Lamb, just observe a person whose feet have been astray and have been brought back to better days. Till you have seen that, don’t make any attempt to define the word “joy.”