Monday, April 8, 2019

Why I Hate Shoes (nothing personal, Jimmy Choo)

As soon as we are born, we are put in shoes. Cages that prevent our naturally dexterous toes from expressing their mobility. These so called “support systems” actually hinder our true support system… the tissue and musculature in the foot, ankle and lower leg. Our legs are designed to be our connection point to the earth and support our weight for hours as we move across it! For some reason, we have been told from birth that our feet are fragile and need extra support in order to go play outside?

Until its culturally acceptable to go everywhere barefoot, I suppose I will continue to be imprisoned in the mittens that society forces on me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Living in a city there is no way I’m stepping outside without shoes on, and snow and ice could be tricky… but we don’t have to be in our shoes all the time. Take them off at work while sitting at your desk, or if you’re relaxing at home.

There are other steps you can take to help your feet thrive while just sitting around watching tv! Here are some preventative self care methods you can perform daily to promote the health of the bones, fascia, tendons, and ligaments in your feet!

1. Toe Spacers
Many shoes and sneakers, and particularly dress shoes, are very tapered at the toe end. . That tapering can cause hammer toes, bunions, and ingrown toenails. Toe spacers can be easily worn around the house and promote space between the toes. I recommend starting with the small foam ones and slowly working your way up to something with more integrity like silicone or plastic. There are also socks with built in toe spacers that you might try! For an extra benefit, try wiggling and controlling your toes while the toes spacers are in place so that you learn active control of this passively spread position!

2. Ankle & Toe CARs
CAR is an acronym for Controlled Articular Rotation, which is a fancy way of saying joint circle. Remember in gym class when you did really big arm circles to warm up? Think that but much slower, more intentional, more controlled and, in this case, doing it for your ankles and toes. Slowly moving your joints daily in their fullest range of motion is quite possibly the biggest bang for your buck activity you can do for the health and longevity of a joint. Here are links to both ankle and toe CARs:



3. Ankle Strengthening Drills
If you must wear high heels on a regular basis, know that the muscles of your lower legs are being put in passively stretched or contracted positions for long periods of time. Even when you wear sneakers or dress shoes, most of them have a heel drop. This means that the heel of the footwear is slightly higher than the toe, and that leaves your calves and your tibialis anterior (shin muscles) in passive positions.

The soles of some shoes are almost a full inch wider than the shoe itself, such that you’re more or less standing on a platform. This creates multiple problems. First, it prevents the muscles on the side of your ankle (peroneals) from working and stabilizing during gait. Eventually, not using those muscles, you will lose them. Next, if your ankle rolls off this platform, you are asking your body to deal with an intense amount of weight which can cause an ankle sprain.

Here are some beginner to intermediate drills you can do to start strengthening the ankle multiple ranges of motion.

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Ankle Plantarflexion

Ankle Inversion

Ankle Eversion

Taking care of your feet is a lifelong effort. Our feet are the most important part of the body for locomotion - they provide sensory feedback on what objects we are walking on, where our center of mass is in relation to our feet, and they produce the force that propels us across the floor! Unfortunately, the way we live and what we wear often conflicts with what is best for our health. I promise you that spending some consistent time working these simple exercises into your daily life will pay big dividends in the form of enhanced and pain-free mobility.

Stephen Cornely CPT LMT FRCms
Triad Wellness Philly
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