If you have done any personal training with me or attended one of my Pilates or yoga classes you have no doubt heard me discuss the importance of strong, flexible, healthy feet. Greater strength and mobility allows for more economic movement.
What are “Healthy Feet”?
- Pain free!
- Strong and flexible, feet, ankles and toes, that all articulate when you walk.
- Toes are straight, not crooked, and point straight forward.
- Toes lie flat, not curled under, with toenails pointing up towards the ceiling.
- Foot is triangle shaped, widest at toes.
- You are able to walk barefoot without discomfort.
Why is Foot Health Important?
Deconditioned foot muscles can cause muscles in your legs, hips and back to work less efficiently. This may translate to pain in your knees, low back, shoulders and neck. Common foot ailments include: bunions, neuromas, plantar fasciitis (or plantar fasciosis), hammertoes, and ingrown toenails.
How Can I Correct These Problems?
Oh I’m glad you asked! The good news is a lot of this is under your control. Start paying attention to which shoes hurt your feet, what activities make your feet feel better or worse? Kick your shoes off once or twice a day and walk around the house or office barefoot (if you are not currently in a painful, inflamed state). Meet with Anne to learn about:
- Foot strengthening exercises
- Healthy footwear
- Correct Toes
- Use of heat or cold
- Myofascial release work
In this recent article about a new “foot core paradigm”. Dr. Patrick McKeon, an athletic therapist and professor of exercise science and his colleagues outline their ideas presented in the March issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They argue that traditional sports medicine largely ignores the contribution of the intrinsic foot muscles in stabilization work.
“When we talk about core stability, you immediately have visions of people training their abdominal muscles,” says Dr. Patrick McKeon, an athletic therapist and professor of exercise science at Ithaca College in New York.
“We also have a foot core,” he says. “The muscles in the foot behave in the same way.”
These small muscles in our feet help keep us stable and balanced as we move. By relying on shoes with arch support, or orthodics we use the small muscles less. The large muscles of the foot and lower leg often take over the role of stabilization. This can lead to overuse injuries. When my clients ask me about orthodics I recommend using them as a temporary “cast” to support and immobilize the injured area while it heals rather than using orthodics an ongoing permanent solution. Once the inflammation is gone you can begin strengthening the muscles that support your arch, rather than allowing them to become deconditioned.
So how do we strengthen these tiny muscles? The authors recommend spreading the toes wide, squeezing them together, curling your toes and pulling a towel towards you, and picking up a marble with your toes (all moves by the way that we did here in our Healthy Feet Workshop this past February).
Contact me to find out how my “Healthy Foot” program can help you live pain free!