We are bipedal by nature so it stands to reason that one of the first places we can injure ourselves is our feet. One of the most functional movements that we do is to walk around and when we are walking, we are placing usually 1 to 1 ½ times our weight onto our feet. This creates impact forces. That and the reaction force which is the resistance of the ground coming back up to meet us when we put our weight on our feet can create functional issues
As we get older, we lose some of the ability for the transmitters in our feet to give us the signals that we need. Often, we find ourselves wearing more and more supportive shoes as we age, with more padding and protection from the elements when what we really need is less support and less padding as our nerve endings become less sensitive to reading the ground.
“As we get older, our sense of touch becomes lessened. Up to about the age of 40 we tend to have the same sensitivity but then after 40, it decreases. When we are 90, we have only about 25% of the sensitivity in our feet that we had when we were 40…and then we wear shoes with more padding ‘for support and comfort” no wonder we fall over – we can’t feel the ground so well!!!!”
—–Robbins and Waked
Our body also ‘reads’ the surface of what we are walking on before we even touch it with our feet so when there are gross anomalies underfoot, we do not adjust accordingly and this can lead to injury
The receptivity of the skin on the base of our feet is almost identical to that of our hands and yet we put shoes and socks on for a lot of our day and the information that we receive from the ground is then distorted – just like it would be if we were wearing gloves all day.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with wearing shoes, in fact, we need them these days for comfort, safety, and for a lot of us, support. There’s also the fashion statement that shoes can make! So keep wearing your shoes but see if you can start to spend some time barefoot to help get some much-needed exercise into your feet.
If you are a constant shoe wearer – begin by taking your shoes off for short periods when you are at home. Ideally, you will be barefoot, especially if you have smooth and slippery surfaces in your home and the next best thing would be to wear socks with grips underneath them.
Next, you may try a bit of an obstacle course around your home – perhaps walking on some pillows or if your kids have lego pieces, invariably they are scattered around the home – try walking on those (some call it a fire walk)– or if not, something similar – this will stimulate the plantar receptors of your feet – our aim is to wake up the muscles.
Next, go for a walk outside in your minimal shoes or barefoot – this may be as short as just walking down your driveway or maybe even around the block. Gradually, you can make your outside journeys longer and longer. Just how slowly you do this will depend on how long you have been wearing supportive or heeled shoes and whether you have serious foot issues or injuries or not. The transitioning of your usual footwear to minimal footwear could take anywhere from a couple of days to weeks, months, and even years. You are the person who will best be able to determine this and how you do this will be to listen to the signals your feet are giving you – sometimes we don’t feel the pain until later.
There are many fantastic exercises we can do for our feet. If you want to learn more about your feet and some exercise suggestions (with practice time) sign up for our Foot workshop.
Tuesday November 22nd, 6pm on zoom
$69 – free for members – time to join 🙂