Our feet are a common cause of dysfunction. Have you ever noticed how your back hurts more with shoes on? Or perhaps its your knee? Perhaps you just notice the RELIEF when you take your shoes off at the end of the day. Maybe, you can't balance without wearing shoes?... These are all signs that your footwear isn't doing you any favours...
ABOUT OUR FEET... The human foot consists of 26 bones; 52 bones in both feet. The entire human body consists of 206 bones. That's one quarter of the bones in the body which live JUST in our FEET. The connection of bones create joints which create mobility. Mobility creates power. In the case of our feet, the role of these bones and joints is to absorb and disperse load throughout the body. If we trap our feet in footwear all day, footwear with "Arch support", "motion control", and "cushioning", we are essentially robbing the feet of the possibility to MOVE & FUNCTION. With all the added "Technology", we are blinding the feet of their natural function to judge the absorption of forces from the earth which places greater stress on every joint upstream from the foot.
Have you ever noticed the shape of a babies foot? That is what a "natural" foot looks like, before it has been distorted by shoes...
Natural footwear ... what's the story? Free The Wonderful Feet (FTWT)
This criteria may help when looking for footwear that supports our "natural" foot.
Flat From a side profile, the sole of the shoe should be flat from front to back. Conventional shoes have a raised heel and a inclined toe spring Thin Sole A shoe with a thin sole, allows the foot to SENSE the ground beneath them. This is how the body then determines how heavily we contact the earth and absorb forces. It also allows our foot/ankle to adjust to peddles/stones or uneven surfaces. Without this sensation, our balance, foot and ankle strength deteriorate. Can you feel the texture of the surfaces beneath you?
Widest at the tips of the toes (just like our feet!) Think Clown Shoes. The majority of movement in our foot happens in the front of our foot. We need space within the front of our shoes to adjust to the earth beneath us and to move freely to create power and strength. If your Shoes are narrow in the toe box, your feet are likely to experience dysfunction now or in the future, whether painful or not.
Flexible Sole The foot is mobile - remember 26 bones in each foot. All of these bones & joints need to move in a variety of ways for function. Rigid shoes (for example hiking boots), limit movement and contribute to weakening of the foot & ankle muscles.
WARNING! PLEASE NOTE: It is necessary to gradually wean yourself out of full time conventional shoes to more natural shoes to allow the tissues of the foot, ankle and legs to adapt and develop strength. Similar to running a marathon, you wouldn't go from couch to 42km, you also wouldn't go from always being in built up, supportive shoes, to nothing at all - your body needs time to adapt.
TIPS FOR SAFE INTEGRATION to NATURAL SHOES:
1) Visit your Physiotherapist for a personalised plan 2) Start to spend small amounts of the day barefoot 3) Choose shoes which are LESS built up, but not completely FTWF. Your body needs TIME to adjust to load changes.
HOW DO YOUR FEET MOVE?
How do you feet move when they're barefoot?
How do they move when they're in shoes?
What do you notice?
Can you feel movements through the joints?
Does your arch change position as you walk?
Can you feel yourself propel forwards off your big toe when you walk or does your weight roll forwards with little effort?
What can YOU feel?