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It All Starts With Your Feet

Feet get a bad deal! So often squashed into ill fitting shoes, they take an absolute pounding, yet they are our foundations. 

Feet are so important

They transfer energy from the ground all the way up the posterior chain of the body to the head. Your feet have evolved to perfectly balance and support an upright standing and moving human body. If either of your feet are misaligned or out of shape, then this transfers through calves, hamstrings, glutes, back, shoulders and to the neck.

Think of a building construction site. The amount of time and planning that goes into the underground foundations is immense and if just one brick is out of position the building is in danger of losing all its strength and stability.

Some Fabulous Foot Facts

  • 25% of all our bones are in our feet - that’s 26 bones in each foot! Plus 33 joints, 19 muscles and over 100 tendons and ligaments

  • The average person takes 6-10k steps per day - that’s approximately 5 miles every day or 1,825 miles every year!

  • The forces involved are the equivalent of hundreds of tonnes of pressure on the soles of your feet

  • There are 8,000 nerves in your feet, more than anywhere else on the body

  • Just like our bodies, feet widen with weight gain and shrink when they are fit

  • All 5 toes have a function. Yes, even that teeny, pinky toe. 

  • Stubbing your toe is the worst pain on earth. (OK I made that one up, but it’s pretty close!)

Why do manual therapists look at feet?

Your postural alignment starts at the feet. We check your arches for impact support, your heels and achilles, your toes. We look at whether you can spread your toes and whether they flex sufficiently to allow full pronation. Does one turn out more than the other, meaning there could be tightness in one of the hips? Are the calves put under strain? Is there a weakness in the glutes or do you just have a stiff big toe?

And then there is your fascia of which there is a lot in your foot. All those bones, ligaments and muscles have to be held together by something. Fascia is tough but must move well to perform well. 

Poorly maintained feet tell us a lot about the overall health and performance of a body.

Common Foot Conditions

  • Bunions - when your big toe turns inward protruding the joint outwards.. This can cause swelling and pain and affect foot strength.

  • Fallen arches - when they’ve collapsed from the pressure, and your foot cannot support the impact of your walk, jump or run

  • Over pronation / supination - when your natural foot positioning and its forces are transferred away from the central line. Over pronation is the premature falling of your foot into the arch and supination is a high arch that pushes the foot to over rely on the outside edge. These change the way you move and can relay as pain at any point in the upward chain.

  • Stiff toes - if your big toe doesn’t flex sufficiently, it’s a bit like walking on planks of wood. Your big toe is your lever to push off.

  • Plantar Fasciitis - trauma, tightness or inflammation of the strong connective tissue usually felt in the heel. 

How To Get Fit Feet

It’s really very simple, just remember two things;

  1. Move your feet regularly. Move the joints to allow every body part above it to move too, keep them flexible and the fascia supple. 

  2. Strength train your feet. The stronger they are the more support they can provide you. 

4 Simple Exercises for Strong Feet

  1. The Toe Towel Grab - grab a towel with your toes and pull it towards you multiple times, note how agile they are. 

2) Tippy Toes - raise up onto your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This is also great for your arches and calves

3) Kneeling Toe Curl Press - kneel with your toes tucked under and sit back for as long as you can, putting pressure into your toes

Achilles Stretch - when sitting, pull your toes towards you (flex) and hold to stretch the fascia and Achilles. Great for first thing in the morning when they feel their stiffest

Finally please wear The Right Shoes! Pointy shoes, high heels, flip flops, the wrong size, they are all suicide for your poor feet. Remember they grow with weight gain so change size if you need to. Also consider getting some nice ‘nana house shoes’ to support them if you have pain with bare feet. 

And just give them a lovely rub every now and again to let them know you care. They will thank you for it. And so will your legs, hips, lower back, spine………...

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