Healthy Feet #7 – Stand with Your Feet Parallel

Notice the position of your feet at various times during the day. When you look at them, are they parallel?  Or are both feet turned out? Or one foot turned out? Are the legs parallel or do you stand with a hip popped out? Awareness is the first step is correcting foot alignment

Once you observe how you naturally stand, the next step is to learn how to bring your feet into correct alignment to positively support your body. Your feet impact all of the aspects of our health.

Strive daily to stand with your feet parallel—when you stand in line, when you watch dishes, when you walk, when you work out, etc.

The following video will break down how you align your feet when standing in mountain pose (aka: standing tall).

Healthy Tip #6 – Walk in Your Yard Barefoot

The ultimate goal of healthy feet is to be able to walk barefoot without pain or discomfort.  However, that is not reality for most people.  If you have been wearing shoes every day for years and transition immediately to being barefoot, you will experience many negative side effects of this transition.  Moving to being primarily barefoot requires you to train your feet, just as you would train your body for running a marathon.

Walking barefoot in your yard is one way that you can start to train your body to be barefoot.  Start slowly if you are new to being barefoot.  As your feet adapt to not wearing shoes, start to be barefoot more and more.

Walking outside is not always possible, especially if you live in a place that gets snow like me. To help keep our feet healthy and walking on different terrain when you aren’t able to walk outside, you can create your own rock walking path.

To create a rock walking path you will need the following:

  • a plastic mat that is for boots/shoes
  • lot so of rocks of different sizes and shapes (different size marbles are fun too)
  • your bare feet

Walk back and forth on the rocks. This mat can be placed in your hall way or in another high traffic are that forces you to walk across it.

Healthy Feet Tip #5 – Exercise Your Feet

We have cardio classes to exercise the heart. We have abs/core classes to exercise our midsections. We have weights classes to build strong arms and legs. We have Pilates classes to build flexibility and core strength. Have any of you ever attended a foot class to strengthen your feet?

Our feet are one of the most important areas of our body. The feet contain 26 bones, which are a quarter of the bones in the entire body. They also have 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Now compare that to your leg which has only three bones.

The feet play a vital role in our ability to live life. They are what get us from point A to point B. They also help us ride bikes, walk, drive a car, swim, dance, etc.

Today’s tip for creating healthy feet is to exercise your feet on a daily basis.

The following video blogs will provide you with exercises to assist you on your way to building stronger and healthier feet. You don’t need to do all of these exercises in one day; pick 2-3 each day and then rotate through them during the week.

Healthy Feet Tip #4 – Trace Your Feet

Today we are going to take a look at the natural structure of our feet in comparison to the structure of our shoes. Often, we are placing our feet into shoes that alter their natural shape. When this occurs, it causes foot-related problems such as bunions, plantar fasciitis and Morton’s Neuroma.

Step 1: Grab two pieces of paper.

Step 2. Place each foot on the paper and trace them.

Step 3: Cut out your feet tracings.

Step 4: Place your shoes on the appropriate shoe cut out and compare your “natural” foot to the shape of the shoe.

Step 5: Consider how your shoes may be contributing to your foot related problems and then donate the ones that aren’t serving you well any longer.

Healthy Feet Tip #3 – Ditch Flip Flops

Today’s Healthy Feet Tip is one that not many people like to hear because people love flip flops. I understand that flips flops are easy to slip on and great for warm weather and the beach however wearing flip flops has significant negative effects on the health of the feet.

Katy Bowman does a great job of explaining how flip flops cause the feet to grip with each step. This gripping action causes tiny fractures of the feet thus setting yourself up for several foot related foot problems/issues, like bunions. Read more about How Flip Flops Change Your Feet to learn more.

Adding a strap around the heel can change the negative effects of flip flops on the feet.

On a recent visit to Target, I saw that they had several flip flops for children with straps around the heel for a very reasonable price.  The flip flops featured below are from Sanuk, which I just purchased for my son.

Last year, I  got these cute sandals for myself from Target.

However, my favorite sandals to wear are Gladsoles. These shoes are handmade to fit exactly to the shape of your feet.  When purchasing these shoes you have to trace your feet before they can make them. This allows your feet to truly be in its natural form as you wear them.  Use the coupon code of healthyfeet to get 15% a pair of Gladsoles. (Note: I do have an affiliate account with Gladsole.)

Healthy Feet Tip #2 – Spread Your Toes

Today’s healthy feet tip in honor of National Foot Health Awareness month is, spread your toes several times a day.

Our shoe choices often limit our ability to spread our toes.  When the toes are crunched it causes the muscles of the feet to become stiff and tight and the muscles that spread our toes to become weak.

One of the biggest benefits of toe spreading is impact it has on minimizing and/or preventing the development of bunions. If you have bunions, this is a great video that explains why bunions form and how spreading the toes can minimize them.

How do you spread your toes?

1. Use the muscles of your feet to move each toe away from one another.

2. Place your fingers in between your toes. Start with the tips of your fingers. As the feet loosen up start to place more of your fingers in between your toes. For maximum benefit, place your fingers in between your toes and then spread your fingers. 

Note: I have no affiliation with The Original Foot Alignment Socks, I just love their product.

3. Use alignment socks to spread your toes. I personally get my alignment socks from The Original Foot Alignment Socks. When you first start using these socks you want to start slowly. Simply wear them for about 30 minutes the first time.  Then gradually increase the time each day.  Eventually working up to being able to wear them overnight.

Did you miss Healthy Foot Tip #1?  You can read it now.

Healthy Feet Tip #1 – Shoes in House

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, so throughout the month I will be sharing tips on how to create or maintain healthy feet.

Healthy Feet Tip #1 is don’t wear shoes in your home, that includes slippers as well.  Allow your feet to move freely while at home.  Taking off your socks will bring even greater benefit to the health of your feet, so slip those off too if possible.

Having your feet be barefoot allows for freedom in the toes, bones, muscles, ligaments and skin.  This freedom is crucial for balance, proprioception (how your body sense where you are) and arthritis.

Note: if you always wear something on your feet when at home, you might want to start out slowly. Simply allow your feet to be barefoot in your home for an hour and then gradually increase the time being barefoot.

Alignment from the Ground Up

This blog was first posted on Holy Yoga Global®, LLC:
https://holyyoga.net/2019/03/28/healthy-foot-awareness-alignment-from-the-ground-up/

In honor of April being Healthy Foot Awareness month, I want to bring you a post dedicated to our amazing feet.  However, for many of us our feet don’t feel like amazing structures. Some sources estimate that over 75% of Americans will experience foot problems in their lifetime.  Eight percent of the population will suffer back pain due to problems that started in their feet as well.

Lets take a look at why our feet are so amazing and how we can use our feet affectively to help them feel amazing too!

FUN FOOT FACTS:

  • 52 bones in your feet make up one quarter of all the bones in your body.
  • The average person takes 8,000-10,000 steps a day, which adds up to 115,00 miles in a lifetime – more than 4 times the circumference of the globe.
  • By age 12 a child’s foot is about 90% of its adult length.
  • The American Podiatry Medical Association suggest buying shoes in the afternoon, as your feet tend to swell during the day.  Your feet can be 5% to 10% larger at the end of the day than they are at the beginning.
  • Toenails grow faster in hot weather (strange and cool).
  • The skin on your feet is 20 times thicker than on any other part of your body.
  • The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and sensory nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of the body.

HOW TO ALIGNMENT THE FEET:

1. Stand with your pelvis back over your heels, which will transfer the weight of your body onto your heel (calcaneus) instead of having your weight directly over your arches and small bones of your feet. 

2. Turn the foot forward.  Instead of looking at the space or direction of the toes, we are going to look at different aspects of the feet to bring them into alignment.  For many people the toes do not face forward but are angled – often due to bunions or other toe deformities.

• Draw a straight line from the head of your 5th metatarsal (pinkie toe) straight back toward the heel.  This line may or may not touch the heel or ankle. Don’t worry about that right now.

• Draw a straight line straight down from the lateral malleolus (outside of the heel) toward the ground.

• Where the line from your 5th metatarsal and lateral malleolus intersect is where the outside edge of your calcaneus (heel) should be placed.

• When you follow these alignment points it will bring your feet into the correct anatomical position that supports the health of your feet and the health of your whole body.

• This new alignment may feel very strange.  Work into it slowly, standing this way for several minutes a day and then building on it each day.

• Lastly, when aligning one area of your body often draws out dysfunction (misalignment) in another area. So, don’t be surprised if you find this happening with your new foot stance.

Bringing your feet into the alignment described above will help support many common foot problems people experience such as bunions, plantar fasciitis, and low arches of the feet.

Transition to Minimal Footwear

How do you transition to minimal footwear?

  1. Evaluate the state of your feet now? Do you normally wear shoes with a 1-inch heel? 2 inches?
  2. Next find one pair of shoes you would like to replace and purchase the new shoe with a ½ inch smaller heel.
  3. Allow your body/feet adequate time to embrace these new shoes and heel height.
  4. Then purchase another pair of shoes with an even smaller heel. Repeat until all your shoes are those with minimal to no heels.

The biggest mistake people make when transitioning to minimal shoes is going from regularly wearing 1½ to 2-inch heels for over five years and then dropping to a shoe with no heel. Our bodies need time to transition, especially the muscles of our legs. Heels create shortened muscles in the legs, so when you go to no heels, these muscles will now require lengthening. Depending on how long you have been wearing heels, these muscles may not have been lengthened in years or decades.

As you drop your heels, the alignment of your body will start to shift. Your pelvis will come into a more neutral position, which will help with the alignment of your spine, organs, and overall health and functionality of your body.

Learn more about strengthening your feet and healing foot issues in the following videos:

Shoes & Foot Problems

How Shoes Contribute to Foot Related Problems:

  • Foot wear increases the incidence of knee osteoarthritis, back pain and hip degeneration.
  • An elevated heel of any height alters the biomechanics of the foot and body.
  • Normal weight distribution is 50% over both front of foot and back. High heels change weight distribution to 90% over front of foot and 10% over the back.
  • For every inch one’s heel is elevated in a shoe, the position of the body is altered 20%. This means that the body falls forward 20%. To compensate for this, we push our pelvises forward, our shoulders back and our heads hang down.

Tips on Finding Shoes that Promote Healthy Feet

Sole

  • Was designed to protect our skin from punctures and abrasions.
  • Originally was thin.
  • Now soles can be thick, thin, contoured, and have height.
  • The thicker the sole, the less the intrinsic muscles of the foot can do, less communication happens between the brain and feet and the movement of the ankle is increased (Increased ankle injuries anyone?)

Upper

  • The top material that connects to the sole of the shoe.
  • Flip-flops, mules, and slide-on sandals require more work to keep them on, which creates toe tension. (This can result in hammertoes).
  • Laces affect constriction, which impacts circulation to the feet.

 Toe Box

  • The front of the shoe where the toes go.
  • Too tight of toe box can decreases toe mobility, which results in muscle atrophy (toes are being squashed together).
  • Chronic toes squeezing can also result in increased joint stress, bone stress, and soft tissue deformation. (This can create bunions).

Heel

  • The heel of the shoe aligns itself with the heel of the body. The higher the heel, the more pressure on the front foot.
  • The bones at the front of the foot are small and often become angled and compressed.
  • A positive heel causes a displacement of alignment (often resulting in the pelvis pushed forward and tailbone tucked).

Continue your foot health journey with Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman.