If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I rant about my feet rather a lot. I have absolutely no arch, which has led to me being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, a condition whereby the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and extremely painful. I wear large, ungainly orthotics in my shoes every day to control the symptoms and to allow me to walk more than a very short distance each day. As a result, my feet are less painful - but thanks to my orthotics, I get quite a bit of pressure and dry skin build up on the pads of my feet.
When I found myself with a week off recently, I booked into Harrods' Urban Retreat spa for a Margaret Dabbs medical pedicure (medi pedi). The 45 minute treatment is billed as a complete overhaul for the feet, and is carried out by a qualified podiatrist. Upon arrival, I was settled into a padded leather chair and asked a plethora of questions about my feet, and after being tipped back so I was lying comfortably flat, my feet were given a bit of an inspection. Alaa, my therapist, manipulated my feet and inspected the extent of the damage, noting that my calf muscles were shortened (which I've heard before) and reminding me that I should really do more stretches to ease some of my foot pain (which I often forget to do).
Alaa then started the process of transforming my feet, taking a scalpel (gulp) and gently paring away the worst of the dry skin from the pads of my feet. I was told that such extreme treatment is never necessary on the heels - the dry skin there can usually be dealt with by using an abrasive foot file. After a comprehensive filing, Alaa used a machine akin to a mini-sander, which was used to buff my feet to remove every last scrap of dryness, which tickled more than I would have imagined, but left my feet looking incredibly soft. A similar machine was used to deal with any excess cuticle growth around my nails, which were then trimmed down and buffed.
Finally, I opted for a bit of acupuncture, to see if it would help with the pain. Alaa located the most painful areas of my feet with her thumbs, and then inserted a sterile needle. I have to admit, it was excruciating - but only whilst the needle was being inserted. I might have yelped. The needles were left in for a few minutes, and were rotated whilst inside my foot, which in theory would help with some of the inflammation.
I left my hour long appointment with feet that really were transformed - they'd gone from gnarled, hardened things to being soft and healthy looking, and I could feel the lack of hardened skin on the pads of my feet as I walked out of the spa. At £80, the medi pedi isn't cheap - but if, like me, you find pedicures to be a little bit underpowered and really want a complete overhaul from someone who really knows feet, it's worth the price. Alaa recommends a maintenance medi pedi every two months or so - and I'd certainly like to make those appointments part of my regime.
If you're interested in the medical pedicure and acupuncture treatments, you'll find more details on the Urban Retreat website. The basic pedicure is £80, with 15 minutes of acupuncture costing £40.