It’s finally spring! You may be thinking of allowing your tootsies to experience the open air again. April also happens to be national awareness month for the often maligned, but crucial to our well-being, foot.
Feet, though much taken for granted, set off a complex biomechanical sequence that extends into the legs and body to nourish our bones and activate our circulatory system for vitality instead of dis-ease. The multi-directional arches of the feet are like springs. These springs are intricately designed to be loaded with tension and when released, they propel us forward or up. When the 26 bones of the foot cannot harmoniously articulate and vary their shape, we lose our springiness, and walking requires extra effort contributing to poor alignment, as well as compression and shear in joints, the root cause of osteoarthritis.
A problem in the foot never stays in the foot, and a problem in the foot doesn’t necessarily start there either. Bunions, hammer toes, Morton’s Neuroma and the like can be reversed if you start working with them at early signs of the problem instead of many years later.
Barefoot or Shoes?
Many experts are reexamining the effects of shoe height and contour in response to the craze for minimalist shoes and barefoot running. Shoes change the shape of the foot, literally molding and shifting the bone structure. It is like wearing a brace that can either support and enhance or disrupt and damage. Obviously, tight shoes and high heels are going to make a big impact if they are worn day in and day out. Shoes limit motion the way that orthotics do, and this is more often a negative feature than a positive one.
Many foot ailments are driven by “how” we walk. No one walks perfectly, but there are helpful strategies that have a positive impact on our feet, low back, neck and even shoulders. An ongoing challenge in our specialized society is thinking about ourselves as whole persons. The way you walk is a whole person activity that impacts the health of your feet.
Your feet are a result of genetics + use + environment. To make the most of your feet, it is important to approach them not as separate appendages, but as one aspect of an elegant system.
Seven steps for maintaining or restoring foot health:
1. Chose shoes wisely. Look for shoes with a wide toe box and zero heel lift or drop. Your toes are meant to be wider than the ball of your foot. When shoes force the narrowing of the toes, we can expect bunions, fused joints, hammer toes, and fallen arches.
2. Keep your children out of shoes as much as possible. Their bones are still forming and the more they have open air, the better.
3. When standing, try distributing the weight from the ball of the foot toward the center of the heel and avoid hyper extending the knees.
4. Go barefoot frequently. For most healthy individuals, balance problems are more likely to develop from being over supported by shoes than under supported.
5. Stimulate your foot with different surfaces: various carpets, hard wood floors, grass, pebbles. (Choose safe surfaces.) This kind of stimulation is good for us.
6. Twiddle your toes to restore and enhance foot mobility. Visit:
www.futurelifenow.com/toe-twiddling for a free video tutorial on working with your feet.
7. Buy trekking poles and take a class on using them for overall health from top to bottom.
By Cynthia M. Allen