Funky feet :( or funky feet :)
Updated: May 4
Have you been told you have flat feet? High arches? You need orthotics? Do you suffer from bunions or hammer toes? Feet, like any other part of our body, deserve our respect and care and they should certainly be taken into account when you are being assessed for an injury higher up.
Did you know….
You have 26 bones and 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and around 8000 nerves in each foot!!
Our feet are literally the first point of contact between us and the ground, and how well they can ‘read’ the surface will have a big influence on the rest of our body. Numerous factors can hinder or enhance this feedback and the better we understand this, the more we can maintain or improve our movement.
Four of the most common factors are footwear, orthotics or innersoles, types of activity, a lack of activity and hip function.
Footwear is probably one of the most obvious factors and can either enhance or impair movement. Shoes with a high heel could be thought of as the main culprit. However, trainers can also lead to issues with one’s feet and how this then is fed up the rest of your body. Modern marketing has lead us to believe that we may need extra cushioning or arch support or that we need a certain style to make us feel more comfortable on our feet for long hours. Fashion dictates that we need high heels or pointed toes. The smaller the toe box, the less movement your foot has and therefore the more rigid it is likely to become over time. The sole of the shoe is also important. They can either be really spongy, have great big air bubbles in the heel or be incredibly rigid. These all reduce the ability of your foot to move through its full range of motion and this in turn puts more stress higher up the chain. Sadly this is often not recognized or realized until the damage is done however, there are now more and more shoes becoming available on the market that promote and enhance natural foot function. Think wide toe boxes, flexible soles and lightweight materials to allow your feet the opportunity to perform in the way that they were designed to do. They can take some getting used to but more often than not, people find they adjust very quickly to general day to day wearing. It is important to spend time slowly transitioning into activities such as running, hiking and the like as the tissues in your feet will need to adjust to having to work harder.
Orthotics or innersoles
Orthotics or innersoles are often prescribed or advised when an individual appears to have a problem with their feet. However, providing arch support, is all too often at the detriment of a joint higher up the chain. When we increase stability in one place, our joints are required to be more rigid, which causes pain and can lead to injury elsewhere. It is important to understand that your foot’s arches as well as the rest of your foot and the mechanics of it, can be affected by a lack of joint movement at any level higher up your body as well as due to increased or decreased muscle activity. Compensations higher up which affect your feet can be due to previous injuries, footwear or activity and this should be taken into consideration before using arch support as the first option.
Type of activity
The type of activity one does can also have an impact on your feet. Some footwear such as football or rugby boots, studded running shoes or cycling shoes may be very narrow or tight and the studs can also place additional pressure on feet. Steel toe capped boots are mandatory in certain industries, and due to the weight of them as well as the lack of mobility in their soles, these can also lead to issues such as plantar fasciitis, hammer toes, mortons neuroma and the like over time.
Hip mobility plays a vital role in movement. Your pelvis connects your upper and lower body and any restrictions or compensations here will influence you lower down, higher up or worse, in both directions. It can either hinder or improve your posture and your ability to move well. Hip mobility can be reduced by a lack of movement, by sitting at a desk, in a vehicle or on the sofa for long periods of time, by not exploring different types of movement (one directional vs multidirectional), by the footwear we use and from trauma or injuries.
4 simple ways to improve your foot health.
Walk around barefoot as much as possible. Walk on different surfaces and textures to stimulate the nerves and sensory receptors in your feet, as well as to allow joint movement.
Sit on the floor in various positions (avoid the same position as you’ve been sat in all day at work) – your hips will thank you for this
Play with your toes – learn to move your toes independently of each other, up and down and also learn to spread them apart. For some people this may be quick to learn while for others it may initially seem impossible. Place your fingers between your toes and create movement and separation through them this way.
Change your footwear – avoid high heels and narrow toe boxes as much as possible. Consider too the soles of your feet, very rigid will limit the mobility of your feet, and very soft, spongy or those with big air bubbles in the heels can also create an issue.
‘The foot is the conduit that interfaces with the ground and sets the platform for the body to react’
If you have funky feet (the undesirable kind) or have been told you have a certain ‘foot’, why not take a step in the right direction and be in touch to find out more. As the quote above suggests, an issue with your feet may have far more significant ramifications higher up your body than you realise or have been lead to believe. Restoring movement to your feet and so whole body could just be what you are (subconsciously) longing for.
For more information or to book an appointment contact me here.