Feet go mostly unnoticed… until summer when sandals and nail polish come out in full force. There are some who show off their feet and some who consistently hide them.
It’s National Foot Health Awareness Month and feet problems are all over the internet, from bunions to hammer toes to fasciitis to heel spurs, you can read about everything.
But why do we have so many problems with our feet? Katy Bowman, Biomechanist, says that feet are not healthy because of a chronic pattern in our society that decreases circulation, contributes to weakness, and even negatively effects the joints in our knees and hips.
The chronic pattern is wearing shoes. Shoes to the feet are like, oven mitts to the hands – they may protect to a certain degree (degree fahrenheit, of course), but worn all the time seriously limit mobility and dexterity.
And it’s not just that feet are in shoes most of the time… it’s also that we walk around on surfaces that are uniformly flat. What the nervous system does between our feet and our minds is pretty astounding. It’s constantly measuring how far away the ground is and it measures the distance between steps on a set of stairs, too. You’ve felt this when you expected a step that wasn’t there or didn’t expect a step that ‘was’ there.
Take a quick look at your own feet. Notice the shape and health of the nails, the joints, tendons, and muscles (can you even see any muscles?). Do you have an arch when you stand or only when you’re sitting? Do you walk pigeon toed or duck footed? What pattern do you wear into the tread on your shoes?
All this provides information about what’s happening in the structure that is the foundation of your body. Without a strong and stable foundation, the rest of the structure suffers. Buildings are constructed with specific guidelines for materials based on the environment and stressors to ensure value and long term usage. Think about houses for a moment – a house you want to buy may appear in great condition. However, you need an inspector to determine if the foundation is crumbling. Everyone knows that investing in a house with a suboptimal basement is a poor choice because the rest of the structure will eventually follow suit.
Why don’t we think that way about our feet, too? Unlike buildings, our feet require more than stability to function well – they also require mobility which adds to the complexity of keeping them healthy.
A woman I know broke her left foot recently. After limping around in a boot during recovery, she developed knee pain on the non-injured side. It turns out that she tore the meniscus in her right knee after favoring her left foot for so long. Unfortunately, the meniscus was injured because of a problem in her right foot that was identified years ago but not resolved.
If you suffer from pain in your knee, hip, low back, shoulder, or neck, it just may be your feet to blame. Improve your foot health and reap the rewards a set of strong feet gives the rest of your body.
Start off on the right foot by trying movements like these:
1 Open and close your toes
2 Walk around on the balls of your feet
If you find them difficult or you want even more practical tips on how to move your body well, join us at the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop, April 16, 2016