Consisting of just over 25% of the human body’s bones, 2,700 nerve endings, and the power to influence the health of our whole body, the foot is much more essential to our wellbeing than we give it credit for.
Our feet carry us around all day, and as we know – it isn’t just what we do that affects us – it’s how we do it.
Consider the approach many alternative therapies are already using, and more traditional doctors are awakening to; that a problem in the body often arises somewhere else, other than at the point of pain. Knee pain, back pain and headaches can actually arise from moving our feet in an unhealthy way.
Supination of the foot (when the weight travels too much through the inner foot) causes the ankles to collapse inwardly, effecting the next vulnerable joint above – the knees. This misalignment of the knees then causes the hips to become tight and a little crooked, this then transfers to the lower back which has had to compensate for imbalance in the lower body, and this is where most people feel that familiar lower back pain. Next up is the neck and shoulders, which often become tight when we’re compensating for other problems within the body – plus, the tension from having backpain often makes us feel uptight and this shows up in how physically ‘tight’ our shoulders are. Finally, the problem in the foot effects us all the way up in the head with headaches usually caused by obstructed blood flow or tension in the surrounding muscles. So you see, our feet are actually pretty essential to how we feel.
The pathway of weight through our bodies runs from our head, through the neck and collarboes, down the spine to the sarum and through each pelvic half. It then travels down the legs, through the ankles, and finally through the heel, to the little toe side of the foot (the 5th metatarsle to be accurate) to the big toe joint (1st metatarsle). If our feet are able to move in a way that supports this healthy alignment; think ‘Heel – little toe – big toe’, then our weight is being supported equally, and the rebound effect of the feet moving in this way creates an upward thrust of energy, helping to propel us forwards when we walk or run.
Keeping the feet in a healthy condition need not take a lot of effort, just a little more mindfulness!
Change up your shoes often:
In defence of women who buy a lot of shoes, there is some logic to wearing a variety of footwear. Our bodies are a map of the way we move and live (there’s a whole other post to write on that subject, though) so over time, our feet actually kind of become moulded to suit the shoe we repeatedly put on it. Changing your shoes often (or not wearing shoes at all when you can!) ensures they’ll be able to maintain closest to their natural state without relying on support from a certain type of shoe.
*FYI – high heeled shoes are pretty much the worst thing you could put on your foot; not only do they force the foot in to a completely unnatural position – they shorten and tighten the hamstrings and calf muscles and don’t support a healthy posture.
Before you go out and buy your next pair of running shoes, take a look at this short and fascinating video from the brilliant Leslie Kaminoff:
Heel – little toe – big toe:
Next time you go for a walk, pay attention to the way your feet move – do they fit this healthy pattern? If you experience knee, hip, back or neck pain, then you might notice that you’re putting extra weight on to one particular side of the foot.
Luckily, you can change your habits with just a little but of attention.
Your feet tell you a lot about your current state of health:
Cold feet, numbness or tingling could indicate a circulation, thyroid problem or even diabetes, while a sudden cramping in the foot could dehydration or that your diet is lacking magnesium calcium or potassium if it happens often. Plus, although no one particularly wants hairy toes, a lack of hair there is actually a big indicator of poor circulation….
If you ever experience sore feet, or pain in the joints above, try a short sequence of movements to help wake up your feet in the morning or relax them before you go to bed:
- Rolling a tennis ball underneath the foot can really help to relax the muscles and tendons of the foot after a long day on your feet or after a run. Doing this before you wake up is also brilliant for stimulating circulation in the foot.
- Standing with the feet about hip distance, lift and spread the toes, replacing them again one by one. Feel the pathway of weight traveling through the heel, little toe and big toe. We don’t often bring this much awareness to our feet, but taking care of just one part of ourselves can lead to total self care and long term health and happiness.
- Massaging the feet when you wake up or before you go to bed again stimulates circulation, and helps to stretch out and free up the foot if it’s been squeezed in to a shoe all day.
If we’re healthy, our feet will carry us around for our whole lives (that’s a looooong time). We rely on them a LOT, so taking care of them is one way to make sure we’re happy and healthy in the long run. Apply this little bit of mindfulness to a part of the body that often gets neglected, and over time you’ll notice a difference in your overall wellbeing.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go”.
– Dr. Seuss