They're your connection to the ground, your means of transportation, and based on all the nerve endings located there, your tactile sensors for your environment.
Your feet are like the essential spice in a recipe, you only notice when they're not working properly. The problem is, your feet buffer against a lot of damage, but once you've suffered an injury, it could be too late. Heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and hammertoes are but a few of the ailments that cause us to limp and limit our movement. Yet we continue to subject our feet (and toes) to fashionable shoes with no give and poor use of our arches with no remedial work to mitigate these effects.
If you have had serious foot issues, perhaps you should consult your doctor first. For the rest of you, my challenge is to take some preventative measures while you're still painfree. From my humble experience and from thousands of hours of pounding the pavement during my long runs, here are my three takeaways.
1. Maintain your arch.
I know that inserts and orthotics are all the rage and that doctors claim you can't correct developmental issues in your feet, but perhaps you're simply being unaware of the pronation you're allowing by letting your knees and ankles cave inwards. (Google Valgus knee). Some remedial work:
- do some towel grabs with your toes
- roll on your arch with a tennis or lacrosse ball or glass bottle
2. Take care of your toes.
Those odd toe spreaders used in yoga and painting toe nails are a useful tool. You can't grip the ground if your toes are all glued together. Do some light manipulation. Your toes would like it if you were to move them in more than one direction. One studying the feet of any indigenous tribe which has yet to adopt the impediment called a shoe, you will see that the toes don't touch. High heels may be your thing, but let your feet out after.
3. Mind your gait.
Have an awareness of the ground or of your shoes. Developing an mindful connection from heel to toe allows you to move better, and alleviate painful foot cramps and more severe injuries. Happy feet!
PS. Also, ice is always nice to reduce inflammation. This may hurt the first few times. (Keep it below 10minutes).