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Five Tips for Foot Health
Why stretching and orthotics are not always the solution to pain.
Oh, our feet…the literal pillars of our existence.
I want to get this out there…when taken care of, no foot is a “bad foot”. High arch, flat feet, monkey toes and all…don’t stress. Your ugly feet aren’t always a death sentence.
Our feet are intricate structures. They contain 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Yes, I said over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.
That is why it drives me bonkers when I hear things such as:
- My physio or doctor KT tape would help solve my problem.
- My doctor said my flat feet are the cause of my problems.
- I need this very specific shoe because of the type of feet I have.
- I roll the bottom of my foot and do this stretch multiple times a day because that’s what the internet says to do.
Now, I am not 100% anti-orthotics, rolling or stretching. I am anti short term solutions for a repetitive stress injury or chronic discomfort.
So, instead of relying on external factors to help your foot pain. What are some things that you can do?
(Side note: this is not an all-encompassing list. It also does not include regular foot checks or pedicures (which I always recommend!). If battling chronic foot pain, I recommend seeing a physical therapist or another healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation).
Tip #1: Change up your shoes.
Who doesn’t love shoes? One of the best pieces of advice I provide my clients is to wear different types of shoes more often. All shoes have different characteristics: cushion, stack height, toe box width, heel-toe drop, and more. Now, I don’t recommend being in heels 24-7 or putting on uncomfortable shoes for the hell of it. The biggest reason I recommend varying shoewear is to improve the resiliency of your feet. Let your feet experience new things and make them work in new ways. Remember, your feet have muscles that need to get stronger and move in different ways. If you look through my work, workout and daily shoe rotation, there are flat shoes, wide shoes, boots and the occasional heel.
Tip #2: Check out your toe mobility.
Our toes move…up, down, and sideways. As great as shoewear is, our foot health has declined throughout the centuries. Our toes smoosh together and we’re seeing more bunions than ever. Did you know that our big toe is supposed to extend 70 degrees and that to walk it needs to extend ~50 degrees? This is something I always double-check with my clients. If limited, you can work on it. Also, our toes should be able to move. With your feet on the ground, see if you can raise your big toe up without any of your other toes. How about raising all of your little toes independently of the big toe? Oh, and try to spread ’em too! Believe it or not, we’re actually supposed to have space in between our toes. If you’re lacking, I recommend buying a pair of toe spreaders and wearing them while stationary for 15 minutes a night! Oh, and if any of the other things are difficult, it’s time to work on them!
Tip #3: Strengthen your feet.
Painful and tight feet are often weak feet. Did you try the tests above? Were they difficult? Standing and walking all day doesn’t give you strong feet. That is why digging a little deeper is important.
Our feet can get stronger with proper exercise. The movements of our feet and ankles come from muscles throughout the foot and lower limb. It’s imperative to make sure that you work on the little things such as toe curls, extensions, and spreading. It’s also important to work on calf strengthening exercises. Walk around on your toes from time to time, walk on your heels too! Just get those feet strong!
Tip #4: Strengthen your hips.
It’s all in the hips!
Ah, I can’t even explain how many times I initiate a hip movement correction and a change in foot posture occurs. People can’t believe it. Well, it’s possible, folks.
Our hips are important when dealing with foot health. Strengthening musculature including the hip rotators and abductors can help your feet! Why? We can never ignore what is up the chain when dealing with issues on the ground! Hip internal & external rotation and abduction strength play a part in foot health and repetitive stress injuries.
So, get working, folks!
Tip #5: Balance, Balance, Balance.
Balance is important to help improve foot strength and your long-term well-being. People often forget that standing on one leg or in a narrow line immediately makes your body work harder. It will help improve generalized strength and foot strength too! So, start practicing and see where your balance takes you!
We can’t deny our feet are important. So, folks, buy more shoes, check out your toe movement, and get strong! If you’re dealing with foot pain and you’ve tried orthotics and stretching, maybe it’s time to look outside of the box! Don’t forget your mobility & strength!
As always, if you have any questions about this content, don’t hesitate to post a question in the comments section below!
Here’s to Healthy Feet!