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By: Nancy Robinson

Martial artists subject their bodies to all sorts of physical tests. They do calisthenics to improve cardiovascular strength, pushups for muscle strength, stretching to improve flexibility, and so much more. Focus is so often on protecting and caring for hands, head and torso that a vitally important body part rarely gets the attention it deserves: the foot. The foot is extremely strong and very functional. The foot and ankle hold one quarter of the bones in the entire human body – 26 to be exact. There are also thirty three joints and more than 100 muscles, lots of blood vessels, skin, and more. Failure to provide proper care and attention to the foot (and ankle) could result in any of the following conditions: achilles tendonitis, arch pain, arthritis, athlete’s foot, bunions, calluses, corns, hammer toes, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, toenail fungus, broken bones and more.

Dr. Ceasar Irby, a Connecticut Podiatrist, specializes in foot and ankle surgery. He offers the following list of five tips to keep in mind, particularly for martial artists and the care of their feet:
1. Devote fifteen minutes to stretching your feet and ankles before and after training. Most nagging strains/sprains can be avoided with a proper pre-workout routine.

2. Cleanse your feet daily with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. This will help prevent foot fungus.

3. Moisturize your feet daily, well hydrated skin helps to prevent skin fissuring which can also lead to Athletes feet. Apply lotions/creams after showering but avoid the areas between the toes.

4. Invest in a great pair of training shoes. Great does not equal expensive, a shoe should provide comfort, protection and support during activities. Try on a variety of shoes before you take the plunge.

5. Really, did you think I’d forget form, form, form! Over the years, I have treated many marital artists with various toe fractures. Remember never ever lead with your toes!!!