The human foot is an evolutionary masterpiece; it has far more function then what we give it credit for. Our feet are almost identical to our hands in structure and should seemingly have similar dexterity. One of the major reasons we don’t have the same dexterity in our feet is due to our footwear. We bind our feet up in tight shoes causing them to lose their strength and flexibility. However, in today’s modern society is it increasingly necessary for us to wear some sort of protective footwear.
But what happens when we lose flexibility and strength in our feet? Weak and stiff feet not only cause foot pain, plantar fasciitis, bunions, heel spur, flat foot, etc… but can also lead to knee pain, hip pain and back pain. Your feet are your foundation. Without a strong flexible foundation, we put the rest of our body at risk.
How can you improve your foot strength?
- Foot wear: Try and find a flexible shoe that allows your foot to move thru its full range of motion. Shoes with heels, especially heels larger than 1.5 inches, for the most part are not a friend of the foot. Heels put added pressure on the forefoot cause improper heel strike, this can cause the pelvis to be at an unnatural tilt increasing force on the knees. Find a shoe with a wide foot box to prevent bunions, arch dropping, and help facilitate proper strength and flexibility. A lot of expert recommend going bare foot as much as possible to allow your foot to move naturally.
- Chiropractic care: A chiropractic adjustment can help restore proper motion to the foot making sure that arch is maintained, relieving pain and restoring function.
- Exercises: At the end of the day practice spreading you toes as wide as possible and lifting up on the arch of the foot. There should be no contact of the arch on the ground when standing. Try and scrunch a towel up with your toe or try picking up a towel with your toes. At first this may seem impossible, but with practice you with be surprised by how much improvement you make. If picking up a towel is too easy try picking up a marble with your toes.
- Stretching: Move the toes individually and all together, flex and extend your toes to stretch the top of the foot and arch. Make sure to also stretch the calves and hamstrings. Try using a lacrosse ball or even a frozen water bottle to roll the arch of your foot.
Article written by Dr. Taura Lemmon