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Your Feet Are Your Foundation for Healthy Aging

Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle?

Our feet were designed to be versatile with an infinite number of movements due to the number of joints and intrinsic foot muscles, yet most of us hardly spend time thinking about our feet.

They are the foundation of our body, however, the care and maintenance of our feet is almost unheard of. We tend to cram our feet into whatever shoe we like the looks of, with no regard to how that shoe might be impacting the health of our feet (and by proxy our overall health).

There is evidence showing the activation of the muscles of your pelvic floor is greater when barefoot than in shoes. Shoes, especially with any sort of heel lift, force you to adjust your pelvis. This subtle change alters how you use your core. 

Today’s epidemic of foot damage including bunions, hammertoes, collapsed arches, foot pain, and secondary effects of diabetes including neuropathy, poor circulation, and even amputation are all considered par for the course. We blame genetics, not our lifestyles. What if the answer was as simple as mobilizing our feet and changing our footwear? There is a solution, but not the passive solutions many of us have become accustomed to when looking to modern medicine for answers. 

The first step is admitting that you have control over the health of your feet, none of these conditions have to be inevitable.

The second step is to start thinking about how you treat your feet. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving? Do your feet hurt? Are there calluses, and if so where? All of these questions can start to give you clues about how your feet move.

Maintaining healthy, happy feet is easy to do with just a few simple tools you already have in your home and a few minutes per day.

Simple steps to take to improve the health of your feet include:

  1. Stop wearing heels, rigid shoes, or shoes with a pointy toe. Shoes that tighten your calves, don't allow the bones of your feet to move, or cram all the toes together are a recipe for future foot issues. Spend most of your time in shoes that are flat, flexible, and have a wide toe box.
  2. Spend more time at home without shoes on at all. Shoes essentially cast your feet, immobilizing them and preventing the muscles of the foot from working on their own. Allowing yourself barefoot time provides your feet an opportunity to strengthen.
  3. Practice spreading your toes apart and lifting them individually every day. It might be surprising to hear your feet should have the same dexterity of your hands! You heard that right. Shoes have done to our feet what a lifetime of wearing mittens would do to your hands. Start to wake the muscles of the feet back up and improve your dexterity.
  4. Walk on a variety of surfaces and textures. Walking over stones, grass, or a tile floor are all different experiences for the joints of your feet. Walking uphill, downhill, or over flat surfaces are all different experiences as well. Expose your feet to as many different experiences as possible, with or without shoes.

Taking these smalls steps to improve the health of your feet impacts your overall health in a positive way. After all, we need a healthy foundation to build healthy movement habits. What can you do today to start to think more about the health of your feet?


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