Spring Cleaning the Feet
April is Foot Health Awareness Month! Our feet are amazing parts of our body we don't really give much thought to, unless they are in pain.
The feet are just plain awesome! They have 26 bones, 33 joints and loads of intrinsic muscles. And we tend to encase them in immobile shoes, that place our feet (and therefore our entire bodies) in awkward positions and squish our toes together. This can impact all kinds of dysfunctions (read: bunions, plantar fasciitis, etc.) from the feet on up.
It's spring and I'm seeing the impacts winter has had on my own feet, even with my minimal footwear practice, my feet have still in shoes and my comfy wool socks quite a bit and now that it's warming up and I'm wandering out without shoes, they feel much more tender than at the end of last summer!
Step One: Transition!
It's easy to remember what our feet could do as children or last summer and try and ask them to carry the same loads without easing them into it! Starting with wearing less supportive shoes and using mobility exercises are a great way to move toward barefoot moving.
If your feet are very sensitive, set up a special time to pay attention to this area. Clean and vacuum thoroughly a carpeted area, take off your shoes and do a few foot exercises only in this space that you know is free of any prickles or sharp crud.
If you want study this topic more in-depth, I recommend Katy Bowman's books, Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief and Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning into Minimal Footwear.
Step Two: Keep Practicing!
We like to practice something once and then move onto the next thing! But rather than be impatient, long term change happens from millions of little steps done consistently. Don't let it overwhelm you! Just remember every calf stretch, every time you roll your foot on a ball every time you take your shoes off in your house, you're moving towards change!
Passive 'Exercises' are king!
If you can get these awesome toe stretching socks, or CorrectToes, and put them on during your bedtime routine, or while watching a movie, or reading a book, you get a two'fer! I love getting something done while I get something else done!
Looking for foot mobility opportunities.
If you're looking for things not so flat and level to walk on, you'll be surprised what you can find. From walking next to the sidewalk on the gravel or grass to adding fun props to your living area, there are tons of fun options to give your feet variety! Don't let them get bored!
Bonus: A Foot Exercise Video!
Here's a demonstration of one of my favorite ways to get more intrinsic foot mobility!