The most important piece of advice offered by Kirt Strasburg is to wear the right shoes.

Badly-fitting shoes are the cause of the vast majority of problems he deals with at his Worthing-based clinic.

He said: "One of the main concerns is the shoes some children wear. Their feet are still growing and their shoes need to be soft and flexible.

"Fancy shoes may look nice but they are not good for the feet. Some parents keep a pair of shoes for Sunday best but, because they are hardly worn, the child soon grows out of them and they start to pinch their feet.

"It is vital children wear correctly-fitting shoes or they are going to have a lot of problems when they grow up."

Mr Strasburg said older people could also have problems with the wrong shoes.

He said: "When people age, sometimes their arches can fall which stretches the foot out. This means shoes that once fitted are now uncomfortable."

Mr Strasburg says a person can generally tell when shoes fit properly because they will hardly be aware they are wearing them.

The most common types of problems Mr Strasburg deals with are hammer toes, corns, bunions and athlete's foot.

The foot consists of 26 bones supported by a network of ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves, Problems with a person's feet can also lead to problems elsewhere in the body.

Mr Strasburg said: "If a person starts limping, the other foot takes the weight and starts to compensate.

This, in turn, can lead to hip pain and backache."

In an average lifetime, people's feet carry them the equivalent of five times round the Earth and do more work than most parts of the body.

One of the most common conditions is athlete's foot with symptoms such as red, sore cracks or dry, flaky and itchy skin.

Men are more likely to suffer from the condition than women and younger people are most susceptible to it.

Mr Strasburg said: "If people don't dry their feet properly and then put on trainers or shoes, it becomes a breeding ground for germs."

Basic hygeine and nailcutting are usually enough to keep feet in good health but when normal feet develop problems it is important to look for professional help.

Signs of diabetes, arthritis, circulatory and neurological diseases often appear first in the feet.

Diabetes can reduce circulation and sensation. Awareness of changes in temperature and of pain and touch may be diminished and, as a result, problems can occur without a person beign aware of them.

People with diabetes are priorities for NHS chiropody and are urged to check their feet and shoes daily.

Signs of redness in any part of the foot or leg, or a foot or feet that feel warmer than usual can indicate an infection or inflammation needing prompt, professional attention.

Experts have drawn up a list of intructions offering basic foot health advice:

Wash your feet every day in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.

If your skin is dry, apply moisturising cream all over the foot, except between the toes, and lightly apply a foot powder.

Remove hard skin gently with a pumice stone but not if it is over a bony area or joint.

If this is the case or if the hard skin is painful, you should consult a chiropodist.

Trim your toe nails regularly using proper nail clippers.

Cut straight across, not too short and not down at the corners as this can lead to in-growing nails.

Keep feet warm, and exercise to improve circulation.

Seek prompt treatment for burns, cuts and breaks in the skin and for any usual changes in colour or temperature.

If your feet hurt, something is wrong.

You can also prevent foot problems before they occur by visiting a state-registered chiropodist for advice on how to keep your feet healthy.

Mr Strasburg can be
contacted on 01903 600446.