By Tara Daye, Personal Trainer
Our feet were made for walking, but that’s just the obvious. Our feet do much more than just propel us across distance. They are our foundation, our information highway, and they serve as a link to our health both intrinsically and extrinsically. Our feet constantly get overlooked until they are already sore and tired. They get forgotten in the gym, abused daily, crammed into spaces not meant for them, and are put into compromising positions for long periods of time. Our poor, poor feet!
As the base of support for everything we do in an upright position, it is imperative to take care of our feet, protect them as we would a precious gem, and take preventative measures to ensure long-term optimal function. Each foot contains 33 joints, 26 bones and 100+ muscles, ligaments and tendons! If the base of a Skyscraper is not solid and functioning like it should, the whole building will be put at risk. This applies to our feet as well. If we are walking around on sore, tired feet, we will lose a certain percentage of our posture – or in other words, our structural tolerance would be compromised. When our posture is not optimal it can even affect how our organs function by not allowing them to “hang” properly internally, and therefore changing the processes of those organs. By throwing off our posture, we can change how our kinetic chains of muscles fire and function which could lead to overuse/non-compliance of certain muscles in movement patterns that lead to injuries down the road.
Those tender tootsies do much more than walk! They communicate to the rest of our body and with each change in pressure our body reacts because of our feet. The soles of our feet contain hundreds of sensory relays. As we take each step or adjust our balance/pressure applied to our feet, these sensors fire information to the rest of our bodies telling it how to react. This information translates into how we stand, walk, the gait of our walk, our speed, agility, balance, mobility and flexibility and ability to handle impact.
A link to our wellness can be found in our feet. Our teeth are a little like our feet. We have all experienced something that has caused tooth pain, and I’m sure we can agree that it is hard to function through a full day dealing with that type of distracting pain. Issues with our nerves tend to show in our feet since they are furthest away from our spine and heart because the body will always divert the blood-flow to the ailing/struggling parts that need it more. If we have poor circulation in our feet it can be a sign that we are developing or have memory loss, an obstruction in our thought processes. Tingling, weakness or burning in the feet can be a sign of diabetes. The list goes on…. eye problems, certain types of cancer, blockages in our veins, hypothyroidism, mental health & depression, neuropathy etc. Our feet can be a great diagnostic tool.
As we learn to exercise however, not much is ever said about our feet unless they are already in need of a fix. They are just like any other structure in our bodies, we need to exercise, mobilize and stretch our feet. There are many things we can do to help our base of support. Make sure you are wearing the proper footwear. Not sure if you are? There are places you can go that will analyze your feet and recommend the best fitting shoe for you. Go to a masseuse or learn how to self-massage. Investigate ways to strengthen the areas of your feet that need it. If completely unsure of your tootsies, talk to a Personal Trainer or Healthcare Professional near you.