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Sole Survivor

By: Annet King
Posted: October 2, 2013, from the October 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The feet are perhaps the hardest-working and most neglected area of the body. The foot itself is a sophisticated piece of anatomical architecture. It is literally the body’s support and foundation, yet most often do nothing more for their feet than slick some colorful polish over the toenails during sandal season. Feet deserve and need more than just cosmetic prettifying. In fact, educating yourself as a skin care professional, and then educating your clients to care for their own feet, benefits the individual’s head–to–toe health.

Pedal extremities

Adding therapeutic, refreshing and energizing foot services to your skin care facility’s menu can provide a new holistic dimension to your revenue. Add a marketing spin by introducing a new Holiday Shopper’s Foot Treatment as a respite from those long days scouring the mall; tie in with your city’s charity walks and marathons; or just strike a chord with stiletto-wearing fashionistas by featuring the High Heel Helper as a menu item especially created for the style-conscious.

Foot treatments are always popular, with the massage step being the most pleasurable part of any pedicure. Beyond the feel-good factor, why the feet? They may seem less intimate than the face or trunk area of the body, and people, in general, are less intimidated by having them worked on. Of course, you will need to assess your client’s ticklish level, but feet can be sweet.

The physical foot: Fragile strength

Why do your feet hurt at the end of a long day? For one thing, feet are bony: A pair of human feet contains 52 bones, many of which are prone to breakage, making up approximately 25% of the total number of bones in the entire body. Each foot is supported by 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. Feet are extremely sensitive and receptive to touch, due to the wealth of nerve-endings present. Also, because many keep their feet covered and protected most of the time, they may be more sensitive than the hands, which are similarly constructed. And, as is true of any machine with many moving parts, a lot can go wrong mechanically.

As people age, their feet are simply more prone to degeneration. Apart from trauma, such as breaks and tears, simple wear from the passage of time may cause pain in the feet. A common source is plantar fasciitis, which is a painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot. This condition is common among people who stand for long periods of time each day, which is why it is known as policemen’s heel—but anyone who stands on a concrete floor for eight hours a day is at risk. It is also common among aging weekend warriors, such as tennis players and runners, especially if they are overweight.