May your feet take you where your heart wants to go.” – unknown

When my mom went to the marketing seminar five years ago for a senior residence community she was considering moving to, I went along with her. In the presentation, they talked about how important care of the feet is for the elderly. Specifically the presenter mentioned an anecdote from Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal that what geriatricians often look at when they see a patient, regardless of the symptoms presented, are the feet. Because when the elderly don’t take care of the feet – if they are overly callused, have ingrown toenails, or have sores, it exposes them to falls. And falls for older people are hard to recover from and can cost them their independence.

I was chastened by the discussion because even though I was only in my late 40’s at the time and not in any particular danger of falling, I was taking terrible care of my feet. Case in point, the massage therapist I’d seen on and off for years had commented that I needed to shave down the corn on my left pinky toe and I’d replied, “Why? It’ll just grow back.”

And indeed it will but clearly I was missing the big picture – that feet need to be cared for, just like the rest of the body, repeatedly. In fact, my feet are a disaster. They have calluses from jamming them in rock climbing shoes and bone spurs sticking out of the top of my big toes, maybe from my hiking or climbing boots that restrict range of motion, and plantar fasciitis from all the dogwalking, hiking and climbing. And given that I like to be on my feet and walking, one would think that I would have learned earlier to care of these precious platforms on which everything else balances.

I read a delightful meditation on the foot by Frederick Buechner in Listening to Your Life: “I say that if you want to know who you are, if you are more than academically interested in that particular mystery, you could do a lot worse than look to your feet for an answer. …when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”

And adding to that, I’d add that if you want to check in on how you are taking care of your body, we could check with our feet for evidence for how well we are doing. Because as the geriatrician in Atul Gawande’s book notes, they feel further away and harder to care for as we age.

What are your feet doing today?

(feet pictured are my own)

40 thoughts on “Feet

  1. It’s so hard, because…yuck! It’s taken me a long, long time to come to terms with the fact that my body has those weird, dry, flat things at the bottom of my ankles. I can ignore them really well all winter when they’re covered with thick socks and slippers and boots but it’s sandal weather now. Very ironic that you posted this today. I saw they were in need yesterday, told myself to get on to the task then turned to another chore and never came back. I promise, I will take care of it today. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Years ago I took terrible care of my feet, but that was just a reflection of how I was feeling about myself! Yes, I took care of other parts of my body and my immune system, but my feet were mostly hidden so I just didn’t do it. It was only after I started looking deeper inside and taking care of my spirit did I come to see that it was okay to pamper myself sometimes! 🥰🥰

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I so agree now! I’m a believer! It’s a small thing but can be very self affirming if we choose it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been taking good care of my feet for many years now. At the beginning it was because I wanted to have good nail polish but more recently because I really believe what the geriatrician in Atul Gawande said. Take good care of your feet Wynne, they deserve it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My older-than-dirt feet have literally been worn to a nub by a lifetime spent pounding around inside and out in hot pursuit of sales of one sort or another. I was climbing mountains of a different sort, I guess. I take good care of them now and pamper them with pedicures—you’re right—they are harder to reach as I age. When I remember, I honor them by taking a minute to thank them and bless them for all of their faithful years of service throughout my lifetime, and yes, for taking me where I want to go. Thanks for your great blog to remind me to say, “Thank you and God bless you, my faithful Feet!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh my goodness — I bet you climbed your mountain wearing heels for a good amount of the time. Ouch! I love your line, “‘Thank you and God bless you, my faith Feet!'” You always bring a smile and delight with every comment, Julia – I love your take on things!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Grace! My toenail painting skills aren’t very precise so at least I have fun colors. I’m still working towards soft and clean but glad to know you find the practice to be restorative too! Happy Wednesday my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I often feel the feet are so neglected and one the last things we think about caring for because when we’re out at work or socializing, it’s often covered in shoes.

    I never thought it from the perspective of not falling as we get older. Definitely speaks to the need for a whole body approach to self care!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember you remarking on moisturizer for hands which I also sorely need. But you’re right – the feet are covered up making it even harder to lavish them with attention.

      How the bus this week?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A pedicure often feels more luxurious than a manicure for sure!

        He goes back on the bus today. 🙂 We’ve been driving him for about two weeks. The kid who had bothered him is no longer on the bus. Let’s hope it’s a smoother 10 minute ride from now on.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Feet are the foundation of the body, and if missed one thing in the last three years of the pandemic is a biweekly pedicure. I am, however, a runner so I still do foot yoga. I think you and your readers may enjoy this post “Foot Yoga”.

    Foot Yoga

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mine are tapping along to a catchy ditty at the moment.

    I’m weird, because I love my feet. I think they’re one of my best features. Most guys do not have great feet, but for whatever reason, I got lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes! Foot care! So so important! As someone who hates wearing socks and shoes and will wear my Tevas even when weather suggests not (I will wear sandals with them if it’s too too cold) , I make sure to take care of my feet and paint those toes as to not scare others/ I also avoid flip flops and very seldom wear heels because I’m all about foot comfort, there is no better fashion than comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “they feel further away and harder to care for as we age.” That is so true and well-put! Okay, so my feet are a disaster. I had my ingrown toenail removed. It grew back. I’ve learned to be at a peace with it. Forget all the mat burns. Both my martial arts are done barefoot. Funny thought: I wonder what the guys in JJ would think if I came with painted toenails…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for reminding me to reread that brilliant book, Being Mortal. By coincidence, Doris Carnevali just wrote a piece on foot awareness in her wordpress blog Engaging with Aging. She is 100 and a hero of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Rachel – thanks for pointing me in the direction of Doris. She is certainly hero worthy. And I couldn’t agree with you more about Being Mortal as a great book. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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