Your feet say it all. For real. The structure and function of your feet creates a significant effect on your entire structure.
Right now, go ahead and take a moment. Sneak a peek at your feet. If necessary, take off any shoes or socks you may be wearing. If you’re out in public and couldn’t possibly, then please, make a note and come back to this. Look at your feet. Stretch them out, wiggle your toes. How’s the movement? Is it easy? Do your feet feel tight? Tender? Now, stand up, take a step forward and notice how each foot lands on the ground. Is there any spring in it? Does your foot seem to get larger as it contacts the ground? Or does it hit the ground as a sort of block, in one impact, with little movement between the bones?
In each foot, we have 26 bones and 33 joints. Ideally, there is movement between each of these bones. When we contact the ground, there should be a spreading that occurs in our feet. The bones literally spread and the foot gets larger. This action serves as a absorb shock to reduce some of the impact we experience as we walk.
In today’s world, we walk on flat, hard surfaces. In order to compensate for this, we often wear thick soled shoes, this ‘traps’ our feet and limits movement between the bones in our feet. If we are wearing a thick soled shoe, boot, or high heels (which brings up a whole other conversation), our feet are restricted by the shape of the shoe, and are only able to move as the shoe allows. Now say for instance you wear more minimal shoes, first of all, yay you! But, where do you typically walk throughout your day? If you are reading this, more than likely, you walk primarily on flat surfaces. Yes because you are wearing minimal shoes, the bones in your feet have a bit more freedom to move more freely and articulate better with surfaces, but they are still more or less in a constant state of flexion and flatness.
Our body is organized in a sort of chain-like system. The old song, ‘The leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone…,’ tells the whole story. Our bodies are like a chain, with one link-or bone- connecting at the joint to another link. Think about what would happen if the first link in the chain were out of position or not moving as it is intended to. Our feet are the first link in our body. They are what support us and move us through life. When there is limited movement of the bones of the feet, foot pain, or a foot imbalance it will negatively affect the way a person walks or stands. When our feet are not able to effectively contact and spring off the ground, the ankle (the next link) is impacted, then the knee, then the hip, and so-on.
When any part of the body moves, the entire body responds. As we move through life, ideally the joints in our body lengthen as opposed to shorten. If our base of support, our feet, are not able to properly articulate with the ground and expand themselves, our entire structure and system is, as a result, limited. When little movement is transmitted through our feet, our joints begin to shorten instead of lengthen. Instead of movement, lengthening, and energy coming from the ground up through our body, everything becomes limited and restricted!
Additionally, if your normal way of walking is painful, you will instinctively change your walking pattern. Say you have arthritis, and your big toe hurt, you would change your gait to avoid bending the joint when you walk. This change in your walking pattern will affect the whole chain of your lower body… from the ankle, to the knee, to the hip, and then to the lower back. So say you have some low back pain, knee pain, or just overall tightness in the body, and are ready to create some change in your body. Your feet are the perfect place to start!!
My favorite ‘exercise’ that is super easy to do, takes very little time, and feels soooo good uses a practice golf ball. If you don’t have a practice golf ball, grab a tennis ball. Stand up and hold on to a nearby table to help support yourself. Place the ball under one of your bare feet. Begin to roll the ball around up & down, side-to-side, making sure you contact all edges of your foot, making sure you roll out to the tip of each toe. As you move the ball around, if you find any ‘juicy’ spots, allow yourself to hang out there. Give pressure to that ball in that specific spot, and wait for a release/a softening to happen. After doing this for 1-2 minutes, before you switch to the opposite foot, go for a short walk around the room and see if your feet feel any different. Now, go ahead and do the opposite foot.
I highly suggest giving your feet a good ‘ol ball massage every single day! Do it first thing in the morning, before you exercise, or to help yourself unwind in the evening. Your feet will thank you. And as you begin to get more mobility and better functioning in your feet, the base of your support, your entire structure will begin to improve.
Cheers to happier, healthier feet!