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Source: A Handbook Of Health
The Living Arches of the Foot. One of the most important things to
look after, if we wish to have an erect carriage and a swift, graceful
gait, is the shape and vigor of the feet. Each foot consists of two
springy, living arches of bone and sinew, which are also used as levers,
one running lengthwise from the heel to the ball of the toes, and the
other crosswise at the instep. These arches are built largely of bones,
but are given that springy, elastic curve on which their health and
comfort depend, and are kept in proper shape and position, solely by the
action of muscles--those of the lower part of the leg and calf.
The purpose of these arches is to give, or spring, like carriage
springs, and thus break the shock of each step and cause the body to
ride easily and comfortably. In order that a spring may give, it
must expand, or spread. Far the commonest and most serious cause of a
poor, easily tired gait and a bad carriage is tight shoes, which, by
being too short, or too narrow, or both, prevent the arches of the foot
from giving and expanding. Not only does this produce corns, bunions,
and lame feet, but it makes both standing and walking painful and
feeble, and destroys the balance of the entire body, causing the back to
ache, the shoulders to droop forward, and the neck muscles to tire
themselves out trying to pull the head back so as to keep the face and
eyes erect. Thus one soon tires, and never really enjoys walking. If
this disturbance of balance is increased by high heels, thrust forward
under the middle of the foot, the result is very bad.
Our Shoes, an Important Factor in Health. Few more ingenious
instruments of crippling and torture have ever been invented than
fashionable tight shoes with high heels.
Kipling never said a shrewder or truer thing than when he made Mulvaney,
the old Irish drill-sergeant, tell the new recruit, Remimber, me son, a
soljer on the marrch is no betther than his feet! and this applies
largely to the march of life as well.
Every shoe should be at least three-quarters of an inch longer, and from
half to three-quarters of an inch wider, than the foot at rest, to allow
proper expansion of these great carriage-spring arches. If children
run free in the open air, either barefoot, or with light, loose,
well-ventilated shoes, or sandals, they will have little trouble, not
only with bunions, corns, flat-foot, or lameness, but also with their
backs, their gait, and their carriage. Easily half of our backaches, and
inability to walk far or run fast in later life, to say nothing of
over-fatness and dyspepsia, are caused by tight shoes.
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