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How to strengthen your feet: advice and tools to get you started

You may go to the gym to strengthen your chest, back, legs or core, but what about your feet?  Your feet end up being held hostage in a stinky pair of shoes, unable to move or breathe all day and then you expect them to hold you up while you walk, run or play sports.  They are pretty durable, but will eventually begin to break down, hurt and even deform if you don’t give them a chance to work properly with the rest of your body.  Your feet are your body’s suspension; they act as both shock absorbers and rigid levers to help propel you when walking and running.  Losing awareness of your feet leads to poor movement patterns, poor posture and inevitably pain.

Imagine you have a job that requires you to wear tight leather socks on your hands all day.  Now imagine the palm side of the sock has a firm plank on it so you can’t flex your hand to properly grab anything, but you still have to use your hands all day.  What do you think would happen to your hands over time?  They would turn into deformed, weak clubs like most people’s feet end up looking like.  You would lose the dexterity in your fingers while your forearms, wrists and shoulders would get all tight from compensating all day; this is what effectively happens to most peoples toes, ankles and hips from wearing stiff shoes all day, but your feet have much more of an impact on your posture than your hands ever would.

Four facts about your feet that are hard to argue with:

  1. You were not born with shoes on…evolution designed your feet to function barefoot
  2. Your feet’s arches are designed to be held up by the muscular tension holding your foot bones together, not by external “arch supports” pushing them up from the bottom
  3. You likely wear shoes most of the time and walk mainly on very flat surfaces
  4. You are unlikely to stop wearing shoes, but would like to keep your feet warm, healthy, strong and protected

 

So you will probably agree that your feet would be happiest and strongest if you were barefoot all day walking around an uneven meadow, but practically that is not going to happen, so what do you do to keep your feet strong, living in reality? Read More

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Why Feet Hurt

Sore

We are born barefoot and are genetically built to stand, walk and run with our feet interacting with the ground.  Our feet are built to be both shock absorbers and rigid levers for us to push off with.  They have allowed human beings to navigate over uneven ground, hard, flat planes and soft, spongy meadows for thousands of years.  It is only relatively recently that we started flattening out our world with concrete and supporting and cushioning our feet with fancy shoes and orthotics.  The feedback our bodies get from our feet is a crucial part of posture, balance and movement development, but we tend to cut that off almost immediately by putting our children in stiff, cushy running shoes as soon as they can walk.  As people grow up, the role of work, fashion, and sport dictate their footwear choices and it usually comes at the cost of body awareness, foot strength and balance.  As a result, it is almost the norm for people’s feet to slowly deform over time and develop bunions, hammer toes, fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.  Ultimately footwear choices become less and less about fashion and more and more about cushioning and supportive comfort as we age.  This path is a major source of balance and pain issues throughout life.

The mechanics of our feet are closely tied to those of our hips.  Tightness or weakness in one will directly affect the other, which ultimately affects the whole body.  There are 3 main arches to the foot.  The main one being the medial longitudinal arch, this is the part that will pronate (flatten) or supinate (arch up/over).  There is also a smaller lateral arch along the outside of the foot, but the most overlooked arch is called the transverse and is suppose to dome up the front part of the foot.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Feet Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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