This might seem like an odd topic to be writing about, but my feet have been a problem for as long as I can remember. I have bunions. Since I was a child. For years I blamed my mother for squishing my feet into shoes that were too small (which was always good for a laugh and generated much ire!), but that really wasn’t the cause.
Aching bunions meant I have never been able to prance around in sexy heels – for any occasion. My work footwear has always been flat, and the Reebok high-tops in the 80s were my wardrobe staple have morphed into FitFlops which I actually love. I gave up aesthetics for the sake of comfort, and let the ugly bunions simply hang out. Sexy sandals, not so much.
It was only when my daughter was in primary school and the hockey teacher sent her off to the physio and she pointed out her obvious problem that I realized we were the same – we have rather unattractive, flat, over-pronated feet.
Feet are used metaphorically to describe so many of life’s experiences, and it is no wonder…
You “take your first step”; “put your foot in it”; “put your best foot forward”
We’re told to “step it up”; we “step down”; “put one foot in front of the other”; we “fall over our feet”;
We “get cold feet”; “land our feet in hot water” and are told “if the shoe fits” to wear it.
Why is foot health so important?
Today, I ask that you all stop and take a moment to pay attention to your feet.
Our feet are really quite extraordinary in design: 26 bones, 36 joints and more than 100 muscles tendons and ligaments, all intricately linked, form the foundation of our ability to remain upright, walk, run, skip hop and jump. You’d think we’d pay them a little more attention! They form the foundation of your body’s alignment and impact your ability to balance and move without putting stress on your joints that can lead to pain or injury when ignored.
Common problems and what causes them
Injuries come in 3 buckets; overuse, misuse and underuse. Doing too much of the same thing for too long – like wearing high heels or standing for hours each day; ignoring injuries, stiffness and sprains as we carry on with our day regardless of acute pain; or simply allowing them to weaken as we sit for longer and longer periods of time. Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, bunions, neuromas, tendonitis, sprains, arthritis, inflammation, loss of motion, balance and proprioception. For more information, read this article
Can you imagine a life where you can’t simply get up and go? Where your physical freedom is totally limited? How often do you look at someone older struggling to walk along in slippers because their feet have deteriorated to such a degree that they can’t find a shoe that fits? And we shake our heads, thinking “that will never be me!”. But it just might if you don’t start taking care of your feet – and that means exercising and strengthening them, not just going for a regular pedicure!
Put your money where your feet are
Our journey at TheOptimal.me has been really interesting as we’ve received feedback from our members doing the Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs).
Mostly, they just don’t get the feet and ankle activity. “It feels odd and like I’m not doing anything worthwhile”, “I am really enjoying the routines every day but I don’t understand the purpose of the inwards / outwards stepping?”. And that’s because most exercise programs don’t ever focus on every single joint, muscle and ligament in an integrated whole body workout that INCLUDES OUR MOST IMPORTANT ASSETT: OUR FEET!
What’s the point of a strong and toned upper body, flat abs or a tight butt if you can’t walk and move easily without pain? My advice to everyone – learn to love those moments of stepping in and out, rolling your ankles, going onto tiptoes and even (the one that hurts me most) tucking your toes under and stretching the top of your foot.
Your feet are an integral part of your life’s journey – without them you can’t travel forward. They can either dance you through your life with energy, rhythm and attitude, or cause you to become stuck in body and mind when damaged or diseased. Our feet are the connection to the world and are the foundation of our internal connections. With our feet firmly connected and well balanced on the ground, we’re able to reach our full movement potential, easily reacting and responding to the demands of our dynamic lives, remaining injury free.
Like I said, foot health isn’t the sexiest thing to worry about but there’s nothing less sexy than the thought of overlapped toes and bunions wrapped in padded orthopaedic shoes (not there yet, thank goodness!!). So, make your feet a priority, you will thank yourself later!
Also try our Ankle Strength and Mobility program when you sign up!