Improve Foot Health and wave goodbye to achy feet!
The foot and ankle contain 26 bones (One-quarter of the bones in the human body are in the feet.), 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. In plain English, that means the feet are designed for a massive variety of motion!
Consider for a second that you have likely never walked, without the safety of shoes, anywhere that has never been traversed before you. And even should you get brave and off-road it a bit, you are still essentially walking on the flat surface provided by the inside of your shoe. The amazing variety of movement afforded by the design of the foot is lost. Your foot should fold and mold to a variety of textures, surfaces, and temperatures. This feedback provides all of the physical input necessary to maintain robust structure and long term function. Without the regular use of ALL of the motions of the foot, many movements are lost…. and with them go Balance, Structure and Shape (bunions, hammertoes, etc), and Sensation.
>>It’s a classic case of USE IT OR LOSE IT!!<<<
Where does one even start when it comes to foot health??
Just like any other area of the body, you have to ease your feet back into shape…. maybe even literally, as you can expect the actual shape of your foot to change as the muscles regain strength and mobility!
Start with basics first:
1. Roll the feet around on a ball (tennis ball is easiest, then a lacrosse ball, and finally a golf ball) multiple times a day. Work front to back and across the sole of the foot. Stop and apply gentle pressure when you reach a tender spot. You can even do this at your desk to keep the feet engaged and awake when sitting for prolonged periods!
2. The In Line Lunge is wonderful for ankle mobility! In modern society there is rarely, if ever, a need for the ankle to go through a full range of motion. Immobile ankles are a huge contributor to plantar fascitis, tendonitis, knee injury, and even low back pain. Start in a kneeling position. Keeping the front foot fully on the ground shift forward and back. Continue to inch the back knee toward the front heel. Ideal motion (with practice) is the knee touching the heel and the front foot completely flat (without shoes).
What type of athletic shoe should I wear for the best Foot Health??
As we’ve pointed out, the foot is made for motion! But we have to be careful in the endeavor of healthy feet….
Too much support, all the time is no different that wearing a cast on your leg. The structure and function of the area will be lost. Covering cute baby toes with socks and toddler feet with shoes for long periods of time prevents the full development in the first place. Then, super rigid shoes with the foot shape already in place for you just continue the process.
Switching to a minimal shoe might seem compelling. Remember that your feet (like your squat) aren’t likely ready for that. Try a minimal shoe in the gym for strength training and for short hikes or jogs on varied terrain. Running on pavement? It’s not your best option. Though you could argue for the mobility it provides the foot, the repetitive pounding on a hard surface doesn’t mesh with the design of the foot any better than Cinderella’s slipper.
Just like you can’t expect to have full function of the body by doing the same 3 sets /12 reps at the gym, your feet need lots of input, too.
* Do toe stretches when watching TV
* Walk around your yard barefoot each day. Even better, start walking on smooth rocks!
* Take at least ONE walk or jog off road each week.
* Invest in more than one type of shoe.