talkhealth meets... Yatna Ladwa
Our feet are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 ligaments, yet we continue to take them for granted!
On Tuesday 27th July, Yatna Ladwa from Elite Feet London is hosting a webinar to highlight how important healthy feet are for better wellbeing. Before the event, we asked Yatna to answer some of our questions.
In this interview, she shares her thoughts on foot hygiene, the problems with footwear and her thoughts on why foot health isn’t fully understood by the healthcare community…
Why are you so interested in podiatry? What’s your story?
I pursued a medical-based career because I wanted to help people. At 18, I wanted to study musical theatre but didn’t have the support at the time. Instead, I explored my love for the human body and found a unique interest in podiatry. That said, there’s no denying that my background in musical theatre has been beneficial to my patient rapport.
Why is good foot health so important for general health and wellbeing?
We only get one pair of feet, so it is very important that we look after them! My work has shown me just how difficult daily life can be with foot problems or amputations. Therefore, by looking after our feet we can all live healthier lives. We often take our feet for granted until they cause us pain. It’s only when our feet are painful that we start looking after them.
Why do you think people neglect foot care?
I think that people only take care of their feet when they are painful because we cover our feet up with socks and shoes every day. What many people don’t realise is that although they are in pain now, the problem probably started ages ago. Foot problems don’t occur overnight! So, if people looked after their feet earlier a lot of these problems could be prevented!
What are some foot health red flags that we should all look out for?
Toes overlapping and red patches over prominent joints could mean that your shoes are causing friction. This can lead to calluses/corns or even break the skin. Thick discoloured nails are also something to look out for. Usually, this is caused by ill-fitting shoes or foot trauma caused by sports or accidents.
Nail problems can also be a sign of a fungal infection. If an infection isn't treated early it can make its way down to the root of the nail which is harder to treat. You should also keep an eye out for excessively dry, flaky skin as this could be athlete's foot which, if not treated correctly, can manifest and lead to someone needing antibiotics.
What is the link between foot health and chronic conditions?
Chronic conditions usually affect the immune system or circulation in some way. The foot is the furthest body part away from the heart so if someone’s circulation is compromised the rate at which nutrients get to the feet slows down. This can make the feet more vulnerable to problems and reduce the speed of healing if something does go wrong.
We’ve all been aware of the importance of our hands for a long time. Why has it taken longer for the medical community to realise how important feet are?
The medical community has neglected feet because they are not well informed of the problems that can happen to them. Foot health is not covered in great depth until someone specialises within a foot MDT, it’s only then that they are exposed to the complications of chronic conditions on the foot. Also, podiatry isn’t very well understood because people often think that people like me are just 'chiropodists', but we do a lot more than just cutting nails! We save peoples lower limbs which in turn saves their lives. It’s a wide scope of practice that I feel isn’t recognised.
Are people more at risk of foot problems as they age?
It really depends on how well they’ve looked after their feet and health. I’ve treated 90-year-olds who have really healthy feet and 20-year-olds with excessively dry skin. At the moment, I am seeing a lot more 20- to 40-year-olds with problems caused by ill-fitting footwear or traumas caused by DIY gone wrong!
How important are good shoes to happy feet?
Shoes are key to healthy feet! In fact, 80% of my patients come to me with problems relating to their shoes. I must say though, people are starting to wear better footwear because trainers are more fashionable these days. Everyone can avoid a lot of feet problems by wearing supportive and good quality shoes. They don’t have to be expensive – choose a lace-up trainer over a ballet pump!
What other factors contribute to unhealthy feet?
Old shoes are often a culprit. The material softens and becomes unsupportive even though they feel really comfortable! I think that footwear should be changed every eight to 12 months. Wearing the same socks is also very bad for your feet. Fungal bacteria can breed in dirty socks which can lead to fungal skin infections. You should also make sure to wash your feet properly otherwise dirt can build up and cause skin infections.
What are your top three tips for maintaining healthy feet?
Start looking after your feet today – not just when they are in pain!
Get to know your feet so that you can recognise when foot problems might be happening.
Think about your foot hygiene – wash them properly, wear supportive shoes and change your socks.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 21 July 2021
Next review: 21 July 2024