Is it your feet?
Updated: Feb 27
Did you know that the answer to a number of people's injuries, complaints or even poor posture might be coming from your feet?
We all know what it feels like to have sore feet after being on your feet all day or doing a very long walk. Conventional footwear has created really weak feet and it causes all sorts of issues in the human body beyond our feet themselves being sore, things can happen further up. The limbs of the bodies such as in the knees, in the hips, back pain, even headaches and poor posture can come as a result of having weakened feet. Another issue that people have is from wearing poorly fitted footwear. Their toes can be restricted, which leads to other issues such as pain further up the body as well.
Some really great foot strengthening exercises are very simple ones that you can do at home. You can take a little bit of time walking without shoes around your house, or thinking about taking your shoes off at the beach and allowing the lovely stretch that you get from walking along the sand. On top of that, rolling onto your toes to make yourself nice and tall with posture while you're brushing your teeth can be a really great way of building extra strength through the feet and grabbing a towel with your toes and playing about with your feet in general such as rolling your foot along a tennis ball… I prefer the tennis ball because it is softer but I do know people that get really good at this that have really heavy balls that they use to release and relax through their feet as well as get rid of any extra tension from wearing conventional footwear.
Another thing that you can do, especially if your feet have been quite restricted all day in conventional footwear is get those little toe spreaders that you get when you're getting a pedicure, put those between your toes and walk around for a little bit in the evening. This is one that has had really great success with a number of my clients, especially those that are over the age of 50. But you don't have to be over the age of 50 to start taking care of your feet.
Why is it so important to have strong feet?
The intrinsic muscles that are in your foot are responsible for many actions including being able to walk well, run, jump, climb stairs, and reach things into a cupboard. If you have feet that are immobile, your ability to do your day to day activities will be severely impacted. This weakness that comes from doing that may cause your arches to collapse when you're doing certain movements like just getting down to a chair. The compensations that happen further up the body to make up for the lack of strength through the foot can include moving in a biomechanically different way that will make you more susceptible to injury that becomes the new way that your body moves and it causes issues such as tendinitis, niggles pain in general extra inflammation. If not addressed over time, there could be hazardous consequences such as needing to have surgery for injuries that are created as a result of having feet that are immobile.
For instance, in university we were taught about a bowler for cricket that when he was bowling, his shoulder was constantly giving him trouble. After three surgeries, he was being told that he may have to retire a certain expert on body biomechanics, looked at the entire movement and realize that instead of the problem being the shoulder, the problem was, in fact, the toe on the big foot, which was restricting the ability to be able to throw the ball properly because be you need the extra mobility through that big toe in order to be able to bowl properly.
Another example is one of my clients who came to me with pain in her hip on assessment before we started working together. I asked her to get further tests done on her hip before we started training as it was causing her a whole lot of pain. When I did the assessment, I realized that potentially the pain from her hip actually came from her toes being less mobile. So that meant when she was doing any of the other low body movements such as lunges, and walking lunges and running, she wasn't able to fully move her foot over the top of her big toe and instead her toe was rolling out to the side and this was causing issues for hips or hip was having to create more mobility where her foot couldn't. As a result, she actually needed to have surgery before she could commence training with me because she had managed to tear the labrum which is in her hip bone. This all could have been addressed by looking at the feet first as opposed to allowing the imbalances to continue. If you're suffering from back pain, I also have a post for getting rid of back pain for good.
There are many benefits of strengthening your feet, but it's not limited to the following: increased blood flow, ankle, hip foot, knee, hip, lower back pain, restoring proper bone alignment, better balance, less susceptible to falling over, better weight distribution, natural arch support. How often do you have to do such a thing? Initially you may have to do this like any type of preventative exercise more frequently while you're building up the muscles, the strength and the mobility. But then from there, it may only be two to three times a week that you'll have to do it. Initially you may need to start with doing two to three minutes every single day, and that will create a difference which then you can reduce to doing two to three times a week or as you feel like you need it.
Do remember that getting properly fitted footwear is a big driver of looking after your whole body health. And if you ever were looking for a reason to purchase another pair of sneakers, this is it. Potentially now you might see why it's important to focus on the full body.
For more information on how to create pain free movement and bulletproof your body long term. Check out some of the programs we have on this website.