Feet are Amazing
No, really! Most of us take our feet for granted and simply see them as the things we balance on to get from A to B. If we think about them at all. But our feet work so hard for us, and from an osteopath’s point of view, they’re bio-mechanically brilliant .
Speaking of points, some of us thank our tireless tootsies by jamming them unceremoniously into elegant-but-evil heels and all kinds of other unsupportive footwear, and then we wonder why each day starts to feel increasingly like we’re walking on Lego – boiling hot Lego made of microscopic knives.
It’s time we start to do our feet a solid and start to really appreciate them for all they do for us. Here are a few things you might not know about your lesser appreciated extremities:
● Your foot and ankle contain an amazing 26 bones – that’s a quarter of the entire number of bones in your whole body.
● The foot has a whopping 33 joints!
● It also has more than 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles.
● On each sole, you have between 100,000 to 200,000 nerve endings.
● Over 75% of the population will experience foot problems in their lifetime. Ouch.
● Women have 4 times the amount of foot problems as men.
Why you should dare to go bare(foot)
As we’ve just learned, we have a lot of nerve endings in our feet, especially in our soles. The nerves in our soles are constantly sharing information about whatever surface we’re standing on with the brain to make sure we’re adjusting not only the muscles and joints of the feet, but also making subtle adjustments to all other joints in our bodies. Our soles are talkative souls (couldn’t help it. Sorry), and it’s their chatter with our grey matter that keeps us from toppling over.
Walking barefoot without shoes allows our feet to communicate with the ground as efficiently as possible. It helps the brain stay aware of exactly what the ground beneath our feet is like and whether or not we need to contract a muscle or two in order to avoid spraining our ankle on one of those pesky pavement cracks. This is called biofeedback.
As you can imagine, shoes can get in the way of this biofeedback. Picture being given super important information that affects how you do your job, while you’re forced to listen through a pair of cushions that are duct taped to your head. You’d probably be fired within the first day. Partly because you’re the weirdo who turned up to work with sofa decorations strapped to your face, but that’s not the point I’m making here.
What I’m saying is that the shoes you wear can have huge implications for all the other joints in the body and for the structure and strength of your feet. Give your feet poor conditions to work in, and they’re not going to be able to do their best work.
The condition of your feet can affect your whole body. It’s quite common to see people at the clinic with knee pain, hip pain, lower back or neck pain, and even headaches that are a result of what’s going on with their feet.
Keep your feet happy
While going full hippy and walking around barefoot everywhere is impractical and will likely get you thrown out of most shops and restaurants, there are lots of things you can do to keep them happy. By baring your soles at home, you can give your nerve endings something more than usual to work with, stimulating your muscles and ligaments and allowing your feet to practice doing what they do best – freely gossiping with your brain about the floor.
You can also flex your flippers and give them exercises to do to strengthen them and make them more resilient. Next time you’re pottering about the house, try scrunching up a towel with your toes, or picking things up with your feet and passing items from one foot to another. Have a little fun with it. You might even be able to work your way up to a cool new party trick.
Now. Who wants to watch me write my name in crayon with my toes?
Keep your feet amazing…
If you have discomfort in your feet or ankles, there is no reason why you should suffer when help is at hand…
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