Fix Your Feet - Top of the Foot Stretch

Next week in the studio we are focusing on feet.  Most of us have had issues with our feet at some time.  When this happens, we learn the importance of a much ignored part of our body.  We may also learn that our feet can effect the function of our knees, hips, pelvis and spine.  

Last week's Exercise of the Week - Foot Stance is a great start towards achieving healthy feet.  Also you can improve foot function easily with a few simple exercises such as the Top of the Foot Stretch.  You can even do this exercise whilst sitting at your work desk.  

Top of the Foot Stretch

For the top of the foot stretch, you may wish to come close to a wall or next to a chair for a bit of extra balance assistance. First, come back to your basic stance. Take a deep breath in  and out and become aware of how you are feeling. Relax your body as best as you can. Step onto your right foot and lift your left foot and leg off the ground. 

Then bring your left leg back behind you and curling the toes under, begin to gently place some weight onto the top of the left foot. Think of it like a ballet dancer on her toes. If this is painful at first ,take it very lightly. If it is not painful, gradually increase the amount of weight placed on the left foot. To modify this in cases of too much pain or where balance may be an issue, this same stretch can be done sitting on a chair with the leg taken out to the side, then the toes are curled under.

Hold for up to 1 minute. 
Check in with your both of your feet. Do they feel different? More alive? Get that tingly sensation? We’re waking the feet up. Do this same stretch on the other side and check back to see if they both match.

Are bunions genetic?

Bunions are genetic seems to be a very common thought.  How many times have I heard this?  “Well my mother and my grandmother have them and that's why I have bunions - they're genetic.”  Many, many, many times and fair enough too.  It seems to make perfect sense when you have something running through the generations of your family.

 In this case, it isn't true.  As a human race we are great mimics.  We learn basic human skills by mimicking the people around us who have the greatest effect on us in our formative years.  We learn how to talk, walk and move by watching and copying these people. So, if you have a tendency to identify with your mother the most and she has bunions, there's a great chance that you will also get them because they are formed by how we stand, where we put the weight on our feet and how we move around through life.  If we're not moving in alignment, our body adapts by building extra structures to support us.

 I've been working on my foot alignment for a couple of years now (and made great progress with my Restorative Exercises). Even though I have no pain as a result of my bunions, I still don't have the best mobility through my feet and this affects all the way up my body from ankles, through knees, hips, shoulders, etc.  Finally after a couple of years of coveting them, I have a pair of 'Correct Toes' which are professionally designed toe spacers.  I am wearing my pair of 'Correct Toes' in the photo and you can see I have quite large bunions.

The reason I haven't purchased them earlier is their price - yes they are expensive...but so are doctors’ visits further down the track if my bunions become an issue.

 This all leads me to an n=1 experiment.  Yesterday I put on my correct toes for the first time.  They were a bit uncomfortable and I opted not to wear them on my afternoon explorations.  But today I wore them on my walk to and from the studio and they are beginning to feel like a part of my feet.  I love how my toes are spread apart and pointing forward and this inspires me to wear them daily.  I know that my feet are not going to be 'fixed' overnight but I'm pretty sure I will see some terrific results.  I'll keep this page posted.

 For further information, have a chat with Natalie next time you’re in the studio or call or email Natalie.  

Why do we wear shoes?

There are numerous reasons for the wearing of shoes. We wear them to protect our feet from the elements when the ground beneath us is too cold or too hot for our soles to withstand. Our outside world (and possibly inside) is not usually soft and smooth so our shoes become a barrier between it and our feet. Shoes protect our feet from encountering objects which may hurt us.

We have been conditioned to believe that we need shoes for support of our feet and ankles. Just watching advertisements on television leads us to believe (if you believe marketing hype) that we need support as our natural foot and leg structures are not enough for every day functionality.

Just walking into a sports shoe shop will have us encounter such a variety of shoes which can completely bamboozle us. Every sporting activity seemingly has a differently structured shoe and we believe if we buy the correct shoe, we can become sporting superstars. This may be going a bit far but we often buy based upon perceived reality.

                                                                                           The wide range of shoes at a recent yoga class


                                                                                        The wide range of shoes at a recent yoga class

Probably the greatest reason for the wearing of shoes is fashion. Fashion dictates to us what we should have on our feet. Over the years as the shopping experience has become more and more ingrained into our psyches and we are conditioned to purchase items as often as possible, shoes become a statement on who or what we are.

Shoes can denote class status, wealth and fashion sense. We may judge others depending on their shoe selection. Do we keep our shoes in good condition or do we allow them to succumb to the elements? A lot of things can be read into our shoes – whether they are accurate or not. An expensive shoe may mean the difference between gaining entry into an exclusive club and being left outside in a queue waiting to get in.

Consumerism has spawned a wealth of shoe shops in many societies, creating desire in our hearts and minds. There are many men and women who have a huge assortment of shoes in their wardrobes, often not being worn and even forgotten about (and I speak from personal experience).

In my role as a Restorative Exercise teacher, I meet a lot of people with back and other joint pain. This is often related to poor alignment. I believe the types of shoes people wear contributes to poor alignment and related injuries. This is particularly so for clients who are or have been runners.   

In the long term do the benefits associated with protection, support, fashion, status or consumerism outweigh the cost of poor posture and related injuries?

                                                                                          A sample of my barefoot shoe collection!

                                                                                          A sample of my barefoot shoe collection!

I think not.  I am fast becoming the ‘Imelda Marcos’ of barefoot shoes.  A pair for every occasion – who says health has to be boring?


Knee Pain - start with restoring natural foot function

We have a number of clients with knee pain.  When the knee hurts there may be many contributors including the foot, ankle, hip, and core function.

Let's start with restoring natural foot function.  Watch this great video where Natural Sports Podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan discusses natural, conservative and preventive treatments, and compares them to traditionally offered, conventional Podiatric treatments.
Learn more about restoring natural foot and knee function.