Why The Shoes You Wear Matter
Don't think your shoes have an affect on your performance? Think again!
Do you have foot pain? Plantar fasciitis? High arches? Is there a pile of once or twice-used orthotics piled in your closet?
As much trouble as yours may give you, your feet are an incredible structure designed to move you through life without pain.
Just one of your feet has approximately 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100 muscles. It's no wonder things can go wrong! Knowing what causes foot pain is the first step in understanding how to fix it... WITHOUT spending hours at the podiatrist, and way too much money on those orthotics.
The "arch" of your foot is not just one structure - it's actually an area made up of several parts including bones and ligaments.
The arch is designed to help with weight distribution, creates leverage to move you along when walking or running, and is the biggest shock absorber in your foot anatomy. This helps explain why "flat footed" people tend to have pain when walking or standing for long periods of time.
If you are flat footed, there is hope! You need not succumb to eternal flat-footedness. The arch can be strengthened and improved with some time and work on your part. Just like nothing in the world comes free, neither does improving your body! It takes work to lose excess weight through proper nutrition and movement, and it takes work to strengthen the arches of your feet.
If you have high arches, all the same applies! You already have the structure in place to maintain a strong arch, now we just have to get to work making it even stronger.
Buying arch support or orthotics often limit movement in your foot. Similar to putting a body part in a cast to limit movement, orthotics and arch supports prevent the muscles in your feet from moving properly. The supports may feel good temporarily, but in the long run, you are causing your feet muscles to stop trying. And what happens when muscles stop being used? Atrophy (think wasting away). If you don't use it, you lose it.
Try this instead: walk around your house barefoot (or with socks if you're like me and don't like realizing how dirty the floors are). If walking around barefoot hurts, likely you need to do it more. Try in small spurts first. Go for 10 minutes every day for a week. Once that no longer hurts, bump up to 30 minutes. Then an hour. Before you know it, you'll see improvements in your foot pain throughout the rest of your day.
Walking barefoot is one of the best ways to strengthen your arches.
Barefoot walking allows your feet to do what they are designed to do. No matter how messed up your feet may be, they weren't meant to walk around in something that limits their movement.
You might take it a step further and consider a barefoot-style shoe. Many companies make shoes with very little soles designed for more than just working out. Now you can find barefoot shoes in styles acceptable at work, for hiking, and even that summer concert you're going to this year.
Additional exercises and strengthening work for your feet include:
Spreading your toes as wide as you can
Walking on your toes
Picking up objects with your toes (try placing marbles in a cup!)
Scrunching a towel up with your toes, and then pushing it back out flat
Drawing out the ABC's in the air with your foot
Give it a try and comment below with how it goes!
For more help with your foot pain, click here to schedule a time to talk to a coach about a fitness program designed with your needs in mind!