Podiatry is, at its core, is medicine related to feet, ankles and lower extremities (the leg).
For as long as humans have had feet, they’ve needed taking care of, and need to be given special care since they are in constant use. This is where the profession of podiatry comes in.
Throughout history, the job has varied; for example, in ancient times the feet were simply considered to be another part of the body that needed care, and fell under the broad jurisdiction of physicians. It wasn’t until the time of ancient Greece that the feet were respected as especially important, and enough to receive their own study and medicine.
The study of feet was treated as so different that it was separated from traditional medicines entirely, and was not included in doctor circles of any kind. Though chiropodists (as they were then known) were still physicians, they were not part of traditional medicine and were wholly independent. The 20th century saw their renaming as ‘podiatrists’, the name they are now known by in most places around the world.
Podiatrists don’t simply inspect feet and give appropriate medication; they have a wide range of duties, including x-rays, surgery, physical therapy and setting fractures.
It isn’t particularly uncommon for a sporting team or other such organisation to employ podiatrists full-time, since feet are an essential for many sports and need to be kept in top condition.
Orthotics is an even more specialised form of podiatry that focuses on restorative orthoses; that is, physically helping or enhancing foot performance with custom orthotics. This is another profession often used extensively in sport to help athlete performance.
Overall, podiatry is an essential profession; it may not sound like the most pleasant of jobs, but our feet are important. Someone has to take care of them!