Foot Health Matters

One of the perks of working with movement and the human body is the unique perspectives we are exposed to about our overall health and wellness.

This is especially true working in a multi disciplinary practice with wide ranging backgrounds and skill sets.

If we can bring together ideas and distil them into the most valuable parts, we can save people decades of research and trial and error.

The aim is to take some topics that may at first seem foreign to people outside our industry and turn them into something people can understand and use to improve their lives.

 

Why does Foot Health matter?

Just like our hands, our feet are capable of great dexterity and have enormous potential when it comes to adding to the overall capability of our bodies.

As demonstrated by some ancient and beautiful traditions, the feet can also be a great source of artistic expression.

Still, the human foot has taken a back seat in modern times, and people are usually quite unaware of, or even baffled by the idea of allowing our feet to be… feet.

It’s intriguing to see people’s reaction to foot shaped shoes, or perhaps to somebody going barefoot during time outdoors. It’s not normal, and let’s face it, toes are weird. 🤔

So, how can we change this point of view in order to help you optimise your movement, and decrease the likelihood of future injuries?

We hope that keeping you informed will be a good start.

Here are some general principles to consider about movement.  We will follow up and explain how these ideas relate specifically to the feet:

  • The forces acting on the body are supposed to give us strength, not threaten our structure.  You could think of forces that act upon us as free currency for reinforcement your body.
  • If you don’t develop your body to contain and use the forces that act upon it, it’s like walking past piles of 20 dollar notes all day : )
  • Sharing motion throughout the different segments of the body (joint structures) is how we can take advantage of these forces.
  • Loading of muscles during segmental motion will elicit a strengthening effect.

 

Here are a few things you might not know about your feet:

 

52 of the body’s 106 bones, and 66 of 360 joints are located in the feet.

They are our primary interface with the ground, for thousands steps per day.  On top of this, our bodyweight is magnified on our approach to the ground to various degrees during physical activities.

They have the ability to help out all body parts not only by dissipating ground reaction forces but by changing shape with terrain and absorbing ranges of motion that are driven from the body above.

Specific bone motions in the foot begin a chain of eccentric loading (lengthening before shortening) of muscles higher up the chain.  Think glute activation for example- your foot function may me more powerful than any number of Glute bridges or deadlifts!

We can train, strengthen and educate our feet in just the same way as any other body part.

They are a hive of Sensory information- When the foot adapts to the ground or motion from above, changes at the 33 joints give us proprioceptive input about the relative positions of our body parts.

The more acutely we can track the movements that occur within the confines of the body, the more capable we are likely to be in motion.

 

What issues should we be aware of regarding Foot Health?!

 

 

One problem we face is that Modern footwear doesn’t much resemble the shape of a foot.

The condition of human feet in groups of people who have never been exposed to modern footwear is a good illustration.  This is a subject that often evokes an emotional response from passionate educators on the subject.

When you look at the result of this on the function of the feet you can begin to understand why:

Try and envisage the foot being squeezed from all directions, (and muffled by a thick rubbery sole) when it’s trying to spread and adapt to ground contact.

If the feet can’t alter their shape or feel the ground when we put our body weight through them, a number of things can happen:

 

The joints in the feet stiffen, resulting in a lessened ability to share motion throughout the joints.

When the bones of the feet are restricted, it’s more difficult to deal with ground reaction force.  Try turning a cars suspension into one solid piece and see what happens to the structure of the car!

Heavily cushioned shoes might protect us from this in the short term, but over time will diminish our natural shock absorbing capabilities.

Muscles and soft tissues are not able lengthen and load properly, both in the feet and further up the kinetic chain.

Overlapping patterns can be effected and corresponding movements in the ankle, hip, and spine may not be far behind.

We are limited in our ability to feel the ground and detect sensory information- one of the keys to high performance and protection from outside threats.

In short, if the feet can’t adapt and move, they can’t do what they have evolved to do.

How do we look after the structure and capabilities of our feet?

 

 

The first step to this is to allow them to move.

Spend some time barefoot, and see how connected you are with the movement of your feet.

Observe- when you take your shoes off, are your toes the widest part of your foot, or are they squashed together?  Do you have some control over the intrinsic movements of your feet?

Take some time to read around the subject and understand WHY foot health can help you now and in the future.

At Joint Dynamics we will often train the feet in conjunction with other body parts, and consider them in many cases of pain and dysfunction throughout the body.

Once acquiring this analysis we incrementally work to reinstate healthy foot (and body) function over the training or treatment process.

We hope today’s blog will help you see your feet in a new light, and maybe we can add to your day today foot care with some practical solutions on our YouTube channel.  Keep an eye out also for more information on the JD Facebook page.