Yes, you heard me correctly. You should be emphasizing foot health like any other muscle group. A lot of people tell me things like “My feet always hurt”, “or ask “What is something I can buy or do to help with my foot pain?”
One of the most common causes is that we do not take our foot health seriously or think about training our feet like we would our chest or biceps. So over time we use these soft cushy shoes, and we do not adequately strengthen them and they slowly weaken and lose range of motion.
If you notice on newborns and toddlers the toes are the widest part of the foot. As we age we start wearing tight shoes with soft padding, large heels, and moving less often than we should. What this does is compress all of the muscles, nerves, and joints moving together as one instead of independently as they should. There are 26 bones, 30 joint articulations and more than a 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments IN EACH FOOT.
Why is this important? Think about if you tried to do a pushup with your fingers pressed together or even on top of each other OR if you spread out your fingers and hand and did a pushup. Of course the ladder is easier but more importantly this is how your feet should operate.
Common results of this are plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, pain and decreased foot function. This can also lead to ankle, knee, and hip issues due to the inability of the foot being able to properly move and perform under load as the foot is the first contact with the ground.
So what can you do about it?
We need to move and move well. One thing you can do is wear a shoe that is less restrictive around the toes, like minimalist or barefoot shoes. These will have less padding and a wider toe box, allowing your foot to properly spread out. Utilizing these or even lifting with your bare feet on the ground in a safe environment, of course, can help increase the functionality of your movements and improve some of these painful foot conditions.
Another option would be to use toe spacers that are made of silicon or gel material that physically encourage your feet to spread out in a more ideal and functional position. It is also a cost-effective and efficient way to feel how your toes should be aligned and in a sense wake up your feet! For some, it feels weird and unusual but it’s providing feedback that your brain has probably not had in a while like working out after taking a few months off. With that being said you should slowly introduce these to your feet for 5 minutes at a time and as your tolerance and strength increase, you can increase the time with your toe spacers on.
If you or a loved one have been dealing with foot pain and are curious about what the path to being and staying pain-free is, give us a call. We'd love to talk more about how Strength & Spine can help you!