An osteopath’s perspective on feet

Feet are amazing!

So this blog is about feet…this is because from an osteopath’s perspective they are just so clever!

Believe it or not feet are actually quite amazing…and they do a heck of a lot…and a lot of the time they do this whilst being squashed rather unceremoniously in to a pair of deadly high heels. Given, said heels may indeed make you look like a Bond girl at the start of the night but will leave you resembling something of an elderly woman at the end…anyway! Feet!

I shall begin with some Fun Facts:

  • The foot and ankle contain an amazing 26 bones, that’s ¼ of the entire amount of bones in your body.
  • The foot has a whopping 33 joints!
  • The foot has more than 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles.
  • On each sole you have between 100, 000- 200, 000 nerve endings.
  • Over 75% of the population will experience foot problems in their lifetime.
  • Women have 4 times the amount of foot problems as men.

The role of the foot, and why going barefoot is one of the best things ever

As previously mentioned, we have a lot of nerve endings in the foot, especially the sole of the foot. Those nerve endings are there for a reason, this is in order to constantly be in contact with the ground (of various terrains) and report back to the brain. The brain receives neural messages from the foot all the time in order to ensure that we are adjusting not only the muscles and joints of the feet but making subtle adjustments to all the other joints in our body in order to keep ourselves from falling over.

Walking barefoot without shoes allows our feet to communicate with the ground as efficiently as possible. It allows the brain to know exactly what the ground beneath our feet is like and if we need to contract a muscle or two in order to avoid spraining our ankle on a rather stealthy pavement crack. This is called biofeedback.

As you can imagine, shoes get in the way of this biofeedback a fair bit. This can have huge implications for all the other joints in the body and for the structure and strength of your feet.

In my osteopathy clinic in Swansea, I often see people with knee, hip, lower back, neck pain or even headaches all coming from their feet!

Although actually walking around barefoot is impractical (avoiding heroin needles being just one of the many obstacles) you can do things to help your feet by just going barefoot as much as you can. Having bare feet in the house means that you give those nerve endings at least something to work with, you stimulate the muscles and ligaments in the feet to actually do something , which is of course what they were made for. So try scrunching up a towel with your toes, picking things up with your feet, passing a pen from one foot to the other…the possibilities are endless! AND it feels nice, those nerve endings can’t believe they finally got out to play!

Don’t let painful feet get you down…

There is no reason why you should put up with discomfort when help is at hand

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