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family medical attendant ; only, every pedestrian should know the outline of those common annoyances, which may, at any period of his rambles, bring him up for a day or two's rest at some little country inn, where physic is not likely to be the first-rate qualification of the gudewife, and yet it may be that no other “medical skill” is within reach.
23. The nails are generally quiet in their behaviour, or, at least, may be kept so by the scissors ; however, a word need not be despised hereupon. If they are suffered to grow too long, they have in the foot an especial tendency to grow downwards and inwards or backwards, often causing serious discomfort, either by " growing into the flesh" at the sides, or by the pressure made upon them by the upper leather of the shoe. On the other hand, if too short, they do not defend the pulpy extremities of the toes, the exquisite endowment of which, with a minute nervous network for maintaining great sensibility there, (whereby danger may be warned to the body, &c.) would be diminished : both too long and too short may interfere with the firmness of the step by impeding that due expansion of the toes, whereby the base of the locomotive pivots is extended for further security. The best mode of trimming them is by cutting them off square, and not too short, lest the bed of the nail should be injured. It is stated that hard walking " has actually had the effect of forcing off the nails of the great toe, attended by loss of blood from rupture of small vessels connected with the epidermis”! Nails will grow again where this ever does happen. Extreme cold will cause them to drop offtoo, as every one knows, being then“ frostbitten."
If, by the pressure of a shoe too short in long walking, the corner of the nail (generally that of the great toe) has been forced into the flesh, and become very painful, cutting out such corner is not always the best plan, but, with a piece of glass or knife edge, to scrape thin the convex portion or back of the nail, from root to the free edge. This will draw out the offending part, by the middle of the nail having been thus artificially weakened, so as to let the sides collapse nearer to each other. If the nails are split or cracked, or injured by any accident, fold them round with plaister, to defend them.
24. There is such a thing as "riding” of the toes, as it is called. This is where one toe bends over its neighbour, and is very prejudicial to good or long walking. Such requires proper surgical advice and treatment, unless where it is only beginning, and will submit to being kept in its place by a ribbon interlaced amongst the toes, so as to bind all in their places.
25. Sometimes the nails will hook round towards the next, and this is not uncommon to a partial extent. It is a source of much annoyance to the pedestrian,g and is to be remedied very differently from the way which he would naturally adopt, viz., cutting away the hooking part; but he must cut often the opposite side, on the plan of " flogging the willing horse." He will say, Possibly very true; but how, he will inquire, does it so happen? It is replied, Because the more 'a nail (or the hair) is cut, the faster it grows; and thus the hooking tendency is counterbalanced. The science of medicine is not without its analogous facts of a far more striking character.|| The shoes must be neither tight over the toes nor short in the length.
“In the army it must be peculiarly disadvantageous; and in pedestrian excursions over Wales or the Lakes, or in walking matches, it often operates like a bill of suspension of Habeas Pedes."-Art of preserving Feet.
If the reader has any thirst for this kind of knowledge and illustration of nature's adaptive code of laws, such works as Dr. Arnott's “Elements of Physic's," and Dr. Davis's “Manual of Health," will gratify him.
26. Immoderate Perspiration will be the lot of some few readers of these “Hints.” This is an annoying condition of the feet, though not unhealthy in itself, whilst the odour is disgusting where it is excessive. It is needless to say that extreme cleanliness and neatness is here of moral obligation and medical utility. Let such avoid the folly of attempting to check it, unless they desire to pay the penalty of injured health thereby. Let black stockings be avoided, for the dye increases the disagreeable smell. Woollen should be always worn. The feet should be very rarely washed, but wiped occasionally with a moist, often with a dry, towel. Socks should be often changed.
27. “As it often happens during the day that the healthiest feet are affected with a redundant perspiration,” remarks the author of the “ Art of Preserving the Feet," " which feels inconvenient as the body cools, it is always proper, as soon as exercise ceases, to change both stockings and shoes, drying the feet hastily with a proper towel, and using, at pleasure, the spirituous sponge." By giving attention to these, and the following quotation from an experienced military officer, Col. Shaw, the feet will be best provided to cope against flinty roads and long exertion. The Colonel remarks“ The great difficulty in walking is to keep the feet in good order. This can be done if a little attention be paid at the first. For some days before starting, dip your feet in hot water as often as possible for a few moments ; then rub them quite dry. Let this be done morning and evening, till you find the feet quite free from a damp feeling. Provide yourself with a good-sized tin box, full of the best yellow, or, as it is called in some places, soft soap. It has something
Memoirs of wars in Spain and Portugal.
the appearance of honey in the comb. Before starting in the morning, rub the soles of the feet, especially about the heels and toes, well with the soap, until it has the appearance of a good lather for shaving; and then put your woollen stockings on. Let this be done every morning before starting, and you will find, even in the hottest or wettest weather, you will be able to do a great deal of work, and at the end of the day find your feet cool and free from blisters. Instead of washing the feet at the end of a journey, rub them first with a damp cloth, and then dry them completely. In some places on the Continent it is not possible to get this soap; but in almost every apothecary's shop you can purchase stag fat, which does very well; if you cannot get stag fat, buy goose fat or hog's lard. With these fats I first 'rubbed the feet with spirits, which is an improvement; but nothing will stand comparison with yellow soap. Have your stockings washed as often as possible; and if they have not time to dry during the night, they can be easily buckled on the outside of the knapsack. By attending to these directions, and by instantly rubbing yourself dry, and putting on fresh flannels and linen at the end of your day's work, and eating as much animal food as possible, yet drinking no more than is necessary, both body and feet will get into the highest possible condition."
28. Cautions.—Those who have not a high instep, in other words, a good arch to the foot, will not be able to walk so long and so far as those who are gifted with a well-turned arch of their foot. The flat foot, or splay foot, does not receive the shock of the weight and force of the body in progression as favourably as the proper arched foot* ; and, consequently, the
* There are three arches in fact to the foot, all tending to diminish shock, and present a modifying elastic resistance to pressure.
structure of this foot sooner feels a sense of weariness, and takes on inflammation. In the foot regiments a wellformed man in other respects would be rejected if he have a very flat foot.
Avoid getting damp feet, and remaining long so.
Avoid the habit of putting them on the fender for warmth.
Avoid opening a blister, particularly before the end of your journey. It is painful at the time, and the .000 gets sore afterwards. Get a needleful of silk; therewith thread the blister; leave the silk in, tying the two ends together; next morning cut off both ends with the scissors, leaving the silk in the now flattened blister undisturbed.