The first recorded landmark survey on human foot was conducted by Dr. Doris.A. Craigmile in 1953 in England. After the survey Dr. Craigmile concluded that ‘A survey to study the main causes of foot trouble in the adult suggests that bunions and hallux valgus, metatarsalgia, long-arch pain and corns are the chief types of foot disability in healthy adults. An examination of school children has shown that these defects begin in the later years of childhood. An attempt to maintain foot health by providing children with good footwear and by supervising their feet during the growing period showed that it is possible to prevent deformities and that certain early defects will correct spontaneously, given freedom for normal growth’.
The above survey also found that 35% boys and 60% girls in the age group 13-15 years had already developed foot defects like Hallux Valgus, Varus of the first metatarsal, cramped toes, valgus of the ankle and verrucae etc.
Another survey in the U.S. found that a majority of the population above 50 years of age showed foot defects that were directly attributable to the bad footwear it had worn in its childhood.
American National Consumer Council paper ‘Bad Fit, Bad Feet’, 1981, stated, interalia. “…… The child who wears shoes and socks that fit badly is risking his health as surely as the child who eats too many sweets or starts to smoke. Although nearly every baby is born with healthy feet, it is estimated that the vast majority of adults in this country has a foot abnormality of some kind-corns, calluses, bunions or worse; and medical opinion is unanimous that the link between those healthy infant feet and the misshapen and painful deformities of adulthood is forged in child-hood”.
The foot is the very foundation of the body. As the old nursery rhyme goes ‘the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone to the leg bone, the leg bone to the hip bone’ – the foot cannot be considered in isolation to the rest of the body. Any foot abnormality could have an effect on the rest of the body.
It may not have been followed properly with further research but Dr. Craigmile had scientifically demonstrated as early as 1953 that it was not only possible to prevent most foot deformities but also correct a few of these with correct footwear.
We owe it to the children of this world to ensure that our shoes are made scientifically in the finest leathers that all researchers and podiatrists have demanded for the past 80 years, to provide a natural and near barefeet environment for the child’s foot to grow healthily.
All we implore is ‘to regard foot health with the same gravity as other health issues’.