I’m going to start by saying that I’m not a Podiatrist, so this is written from the perspective of my own personal experience and the things I see in my clients.
Our feet are truly fabulous things. The ankle and foot complex contains 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Considering both feet, that makes a total of 52 bones, making up about a quarter of all bones found in the mature adult body.
Maybe it’s time we took better care of these precious feet of ours??
Things I believe to be true:
- how our feet move affects how everything else moves further up the chain – ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, pelvic floor, core, low back, mid-back, upper back, shoulders and neck – ie. literally every part of your body!
- how our feet move also affect our sense of balance and proprioception (connection to where we are in space)
- what we wear on our feet can inhibit and alter the movement patterns in our feet – it’s not rocket science, but here are a few examples:
- if shoes/socks are too tight our feet can’t spread out to offer a good base of support when we’re standing or moving;
- if shoes have no backs (eg. flip flops) the toes will work extra hard to grip the shoe as we walk;
- if we wear heels the foot tends to slide forward adding pressure around the toes (this also happens in trainers with a thicker sole under the heel than the ball of the foot)
- wearing shoes which are too small (even if they feel comfortable) is never going to make your feet happy
- showing our feet some love will always be a good investment of time
Are your shoes too small?
For some reason people seem to take offence when I suggest to them that their shoes are too small. I have no idea why it would be an offensive thing to hear?? It is just a fact that our feet get wider and longer as we get older, so if you’re still wearing the same shoe size you wore five/ten/twenty years ago they are probably too small.
Also, you probably don’t wear the same size clothes you wore five/ten/twenty years ago so why would your feet be any different to your body?
If you don’t believe me you could always go and have them measured!
Or, if you are experiencing issues with your feet/ankles/knees/hips and your toes tend to looked scrunched-up (eg. crooked toes, pointing-at-the-ceiling toes or unable-to-spread-them-out toes) why not buy one pair of shoes the next size up, wear only those shoes for a few weeks and see what happens. At the very least your toes will gradually start to stretch out and spread out and breathe a little. But more likely, loads of other things will change too…
I’ve bought bigger shoes, what else can I do for my feet?
Once you’ve stopped squishing your feet into the wrong sized shoes, you can help your feet even more by giving them some release-work, stretches, exercises and a bit of self-massage. It doesn’t need to take long each day – just pick one or two things that feel useful and start there. Do those things 2-3 times a day (or more!) and notice the changes. You can add in other things later on once your feet start to change.
Here are couple of short videos from me:
Also, walk around in bare feet whenever you can – it’s a great way to strengthen your feet and that helps them to function better.
What other help is there?
If you have any concerns, I would recommend you find a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist and let them assess what is going on with your feet. They will be qualified to offer specific advice in terms of exercise and support for your feet to get you moving more comfortably.
Be mindful of the fact that a Podiatrist will almost always recommend orthotics (support for your foot inside your shoe) which might not be your preferred/best option, although perhaps useful in the short-term.
Also, check-out some of my favourite foot-people online:
- Gait Happens – she shares some fabulous stuff on social media so find here there too
- EBFA Global – click to access Dr Emily Splichal’s free guide to Toe Spacers & also find her on Instagram for some great information
- Katy Bowman is Nutritious Movement on IG – another source of fabulous resources for your feet
Having taken a keen interest in feet for many years, I now only wear ‘barefoot’ shoes which have no support or cushioning in the soles and they work really well for my feet. Barefoot shoes have a wide toe-box and a less rounded inside edge around the big toe to allow optimal foot function. I’m not suggesting that you go down this route without doing your own research, but am very happy that I made the switch.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and a few ideas to try if you think that your feet might be the cause of issues in your body. As always, let me know if you have any questions – I’ll do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who knows more than me