What does it take to make the feet happy? FREE THEM! Let them breathe and stretch out. Get em’ dirty. Play with them. Pick things up with them.
Would you like for your feet and body not to hurt? Well, let's find out what MOVE 2 Train can do for you. Let's take a look at your feet.
How healthy are your feet?
You can see below the feet are hardwired to take the form of the shoes they wear daily, malforming the feet and thereby taking away from their efficient function
Mens dress shoes women's pointed closed toed high heels
Narrow toe box Shoes too small
The type of footwear you choose is important. You really do not want shoes that confine the toes or have you standing on little ramps. As you can see in the examples of how consistently confined feet can malform.
The problem with most footwear is that it is typically designed for looks and support. That design will sacrifice the natural shape of the foot, generally cramping the toes together and supporting the arch and ankles for you so your muscles no longer have to do the work. Supportive shoes and boots have a tendency to relax the muscles in the foot and leg. The responsibility of support transfers to the footwear that is doing a majority of the work. This can weaken the muscles over time and cause problems.
As the muscles relax and atrophy, the weight shifts forward from the ramped heel position of most shoes, the arch starts to collapse and the ankle starts to roll inward leaving you with a flat foot and probably foot pain, ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, back or neck pain. All because the body will compensate somewhere else in the kinetic chain to make up for the misaligned ankle joint. If you're in pain, where do you typically go?
If you go to the family Doctor or podiatrist they commonly prescribe or suggest orthotic inserts or shoes. This may seem like a good idea but, if you have a lack of support from your foot causing an issue with your health maybe there is something wrong. Do you think placing an insert into your shoe to support your foot even more without your own muscle support is going to solve the issue? Sure it may give a temporary relief while the support is in place but, until you tackle the cause with some structured exercises you are doing nothing but treating a symptom and exacerbating the problem.
Don't get me wrong the inserts could be a temporary tool that helps you till you can fix the cause of the problem although, I believe the insert will just undo any work that has been done to retension the foot. Inserts are often prescribed with no follow up for lack of knowledge on how to address the feet holistically. Orthotic inserts are not a cure or the end of the issue. If you already have these problems don't worry, they can be corrected most of the time without surgery.
“What shoe should I buy?”. You will want a shoe that has a zero drop sole(no ramp on the heel) to keep your weight evenly distributed instead of shifting the weight forward on the toes. An open toe box or wide shoe that allows the metatarsals and toes room to splay and a low cut so the ankle is free to move and strengthen naturally. Look up minimalist shoes to find a brand you like, there are even some options that allow for grounding the body through the sole of the Boots, shoes or sandals. I have posted previously about grounding the body.
What does the Foot do? It is the initial base of support that bears the entire weight of your full body. It acts as the shocks of a car that slows and absorbs the impacts of every foot fall to safeguard all the ascending joints. Stores kinetic energy to be release on every push off during the propulsion phase of the gait cycle(walking, running). It is a major sensory organ that reports information to the brain in regards to the terrain, balance and proprioception. Working in conjunction with the vestibular system, vision, autonomic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system I believe it has a strong connection to cognitive development of infants and our youth. More about that if you ask.
“What should a healthy foot look like?” you may ask, well here is an idea.
Above are a couple of cast forms of two different feet. The one on the left is a natural adult foot of a tribesman that has never worn shoes. We can see the heel is broad, the toe box is wide and the toes splay out nicely. The alignment of the big toe is inline with the heel so the force transmission is directed toward the heel. The body has little to compensate for. The one on the right is a younger foot that has been wearing shoes and we can see the difference. The heel is narrow, the arch appears flatter, the toe box is a little more compressed and the toes angle in. We can see that the force transmission is blowing out the side of the foot. The body will have to compensate somewhere so the foot, knee and leg can track forward or the whole leg will track outward in a curve. Do you think that could lead to any problems that equate to discomfort and pain?
What holds the bones of a foot in position? The muscles in the foot, lower leg, tendons and ligaments. If they are not supported by balanced tension the the foot will compensate to support the body above. Ask yourself, can the muscles, tendons and ligaments be trained?
You can see below in the healthy foot on the left that the two hot spots are at the heel and the ball of the foot but there is a disconnect between the two. That is because the load is carried through the natural spring of the multiple arches. This kinetic power house is created by the ligature and muscles that form and support the proper arch of the foot. During my gait cycle training I emphasize the foot strike as a very important factor. This is why I have switched from a heel strike to a midfoot strike while running to take advantage of the kinetic spring and the shock absorption of the impact. (The foot fall has been controversial for years but I believe it to be very contextual. It all depends on speed and terrain. Yes, when the contexts change so does the foot fall.)
With midfoot or forefoot impact this spring loads with kinetic energy with every foot strike to be released on the push off phase while we run making it more efficient. If that arch is collapsed or too high do you think that spring could store and release energy for locomotion? What about the position of your toes and the driving force they produce. How do you think your body reacts to a non supportive or functional foot?
I will mention here that the foot is better off FREE OF SHOES in order to use all the structures properly. Your feet will thank you to be out of those foot coffins as often as possible. Otherwise you could jeopardize your whole structural health. Have you ever thought about how the toes are supposed to be positioned. Below we can see a foot with nice toes that are free to function.
Here is the human foot minus all the ligaments, tendons and muscles that help make the foot such a wonderful and important feature of our biomechanics.
We have 26 bones here that are meant to articulate around uneven surfaces as we walk and run over the uneven ground to help keep us balanced and safe. In order for the foot to keep us balanced and safe it must first stabilize itself then distribute the load and forces generated by our weight, movements and impacts of the foot strike. Just think about how many times your foot hits the ground and that your body has to absorb or compensate for that impact. The foot is your first line of defense.
The load from the body travels down the leg through the tibia and fibula bones and attaches to the talus bone ( in red) at the tibiotalar joint. This is a very strong hinge joint that connects the foot to the leg. Surrounded by strong ligaments and a thick cartilage protecting the joint where it makes contacts and a joint capsule that keeps it all lubricated and nourished with synovial fluids.
You can see that the Talus is not all the way to the rear of the foot but, about ⅓ forward of the heel and centered on the next point where the distribution in the next image of the foot occurs in orange.
The talus bone connects to the heel bone at the subtalar joint which I will liken to a vertical ball joint allowing for multiplanar movement of the foot. This joint is articulated by the muscles in the lower leg and supported by a number of ligaments that help stabilize the joint. The heel bone is a very large bone that bears a majority of the weight from gravity and impacts. From here I show the weight moving forward through the cuboid bone which is part of the medial arch of the foot along with the navicular bone, however a properly positioned foot will be everted upon contact with the ground.
In the foot pressure map below it will show some weight carried through the blade of the healthy foot but, you can see not a lot of weight is borne across the blade of the foot. Why is that? I believe the real load is carried across the medial longitudinal arch of the foot. I will explain that below.
From the navicular bone we move the load over the medial arch of the foot through the cuneiforms, the first three metatarsals and toes shown here in green. The big toe is the obvious workhorse with the larger bone structure and muscles with its two neighboring toes providing assistance with balance and drive for the push off phase as we walk and run.
The other two sets of bones in blue, the lateral longitudinal arch, play their part as the initial contact sensors to inform the foot of any uneven or dangerous terrain that we may need to avoid and react with a shift of the weight or articulation of the foot, ankle and knee. This will be a safe reaction given the ligaments and muscles are strong, supportive and connected through the rest of the body. We also have multiple transverse arches across the metatarsals, cuboid and cuniform that help support the cup of the foot, allows the foot to spread and slow down the impacts of foot fall.
What if they are not healthy and strong? Could this lead to an ankle injury and a visit to the Doctor? How do you think this could be avoided? Do you think supportive footwear could compromise this function? Questions to be considered. So let us pay some much needed attention to the feet and allow them to support us in health and function.
Come see me at
for a happy functional body. Let's move back into life!