We don’t think about our feet enough, and shoes are mostly to blame. They aren’t all bad, of course. Shoes make it easier for us to get around and they add much needed support for prolonged standing. However, they make it a little too easy on us sometimes and cause us to disconnect from feeling our whole foot. Feet are strongly related to posture and pain in the body – the healthier our feet are, the less pain we will have in our bodies. It’s important to be in touch with them! If you are dealing with pain, anywhere in your body, it’s time to kick off your shoes and thoroughly examine your feet.

Your Feet are Your Foundation!

A lot of people have issues with their feet. When is the last time someone looked at your feet or touched them? If you’re the type of person who avoids getting a professional pedicure or massage because you don’t want someone touching your feet, you can always gain insight on your own before going to see a doctor. If there’s a specific activity that’s causing you pain, such as a sport or even just sitting in a certain type of chair, see what happens if you do the activity barefoot.
Focus on feeling your whole foot – known as the 4 corners: The big toes, pinky toes, and both sides of your heels. Does the pain change? Usually it will diminish, if not go away completely. For example, gym goers who struggle with squats at the gym notice that feeling their feet rooted down in the ground by going barefoot leads to better squats and no more pain while squatting. Better form can prevent most injuries people sustain from fitness activities. However, this technique works just as well for working on posture while sitting. If there’s no change in pain level while focusing on the 4 corners of the feet, get those ankles and calves moving.
The feet are so closely related to the ankles – all of the ankles bones go down into the feet. Likewise, the shins and calves also play a role in foot health so it’s just as important to massage and stretch them out.

Common Foot Pains and How to Treat Them

Our feet are complex mechanical body structures that contain more than a hundred muscles, ligaments and tendons. On top of that, there are 26 bones and 33 joints in just ONE human foot. Because there’s so much going on down there, there’s a lot of potential for pain and injury. Some of the most common issues have to do with the ball of the foot and heel.

Morton’s Neuroma
Thick tissue around nerves leading to toes
Feels like standing on a pebble, can be burning pain
Can be relieved by switching to flatter, wider shoes
May require injections or surgery

Plantar Fasciitis
Inflammation of tissue connecting the heel to the toes
Feels like stabbing pain, usually early in the morning or after long periods of standing
Common in runners
Can be relieved by wearing more supportive shoes

Other Foot Issues
Metatarsalgia
Tendinitis
Flat feet

Make Sure Your Feet Move Well!

How you use and feel your feet is crucial to maintaining proper posture and moving well all throughout life into your senior years. It’s never too early or too late to focus on the feet. If you’re wondering where your feet stand, here are some benchmarks you can use to measure your flexibility:

What’s Normal Foot Flexibility?
– You should be able to move and massage the ball of your foot
– You should be able to move and bend your toes in all directions

What’s Normal Ankle Flexibility?
– Being able to bring the top of your toe up towards yourself about 45 degrees
– Being able to point the toe to make a straight line, about 180 degrees
– Being able to turn your feet 30-45 degrees inward and outward

What You Can Do to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Throughout your whole day, whether you’re walking, sitting, standing or working out, focus on feeling all four corners of your feet: big toes, pinky toes, and both sides of your heels.

Go Barefoot as Much as You Can
One of the easiest ways to help your feet is to go barefoot around the house. If your feet hurt due to plantar fasciitis, you can start with just wearing socks or slippers to take the edge off a bit. The next best thing you can do is to practice barefoot fitness. If you’re worried about germs at the gym try using just your own yoga mat or towel.

Don’t Be a Fashion Victim!
Ladies are especially vulnerable to torturing their feet for the sake of fashion. Remember, any heel over an inch in height is not a good option for all day standing at work. Invest in cute flats and save the stilettos for a special event only. Your feet will thank you.

Guys and gals, be weary of wearing tight shoes or shoes that are not wide enough for your feet. Running shoes, hiking boots, or any kind of fitness shoe needs to fit properly. Wearing tight shoes cuts off circulation in your feet which can lead to a variety of issues and cause pain. Just one week of wearing bad shoes can have negative long-term effects on your foot health, so try to keep your shoes comfortable.

Massage and Stretch At Least 3 Times a Week

– Massage the ball of the foot to try create more space
– Pull on each one of your toes to give them a stretch
– Get a ball (golf or lacrosse) and roll your feet on it for 5 minutes
– Wear toe spreaders for 5-10 minutes – other options are river rocks or marbles
– Work on the ankles with a pencil eraser – being a little rough is ok
– Work on calves, with massage or cupping, making sure to get the sides
– Work on I.T. bands – a tendon that runs up the sides of the thighs from the knees to the hips

Being Pain Free Starts from the Feet Up!

If you’re feeling any sort of discomfort in your body, focus on the feet and you’ll more than likely find the cause of your pain. Because the health of our feet is so significant to the rest of our body, we need to make effort to feel all of our feet throughout the day. Going barefoot more often can help us integrate the habit into our regular routines. Remember, every posture you do throughout the day is what will contribute to or prevent injury.

Like what you’re reading? Good News…I have a podcast on this very topic! Click HERE to listen now!

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