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Tips for Strong and Happy Feet

It's May and finally Spring / Summer here in Ottawa. My heart is jubilant. My children, too. My feet - not so much. My feet have felt delicious all winter from wearing very flexible, zero heel, wide toe boxed boots (this one to be precise - I'm not affiliated with the company, btw) and because Ottawa has been snowed in for the last 43, oops, 5 months, my feet have had the privilege to experience uneven, naturally slopy terrain on my daily walks. I say privilege because each foot has 33 joints with numerous muscles and nerve tissue attached to them and these structures like to be stimulated. Our feet are the foundation of our body and I like a good foundation. I bet you too. 

The melting snow exposed hard, flat asphalt. And because I'm wearing minimal shoes in the spring / summer too (this one in black and an older version of this one - I'm affiliated with the latter), my feet are complaining of the always-the-same input they are getting. Especially since they are exposed to hardwood and tiled floor in my house too. They've been achy all of a sudden and been navigating towards softer and more diverse grounds. I'll share what I'm doing with you. 

Tip 1: Walk on natural ground as much as you can. It might not be as accessible to you as it may be to me but look around you and walk "outside the box". The grass I walk on are my neighbour's lawns. I just smile and say Hello and nobody has complained for years. 
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Tip 2: Find bigger rocks or balls or roots or things on which to place your foot. On the pictures you see my feet on the stones around our herb patch, balls and toys that lie around my house and cobblestones glued to a net that my friend found at the dollarstore the other day and which decorate our bathroom floor now. 

Allow your foot to relax over the new shape. Move your foot slightly and allow another part of your foot to experience the new input. 
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Tip 3: Introduce your ankle to uphill slopes when you are out walking. Make sure that your heel is actually on the ground. That is also something our ankles (and calves) rarely experience. 
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If you're not out hiking every weekend, seek out a hill and walk it up and across just for the sheer fun and goodness of it.

 

 

 

 

Tip 4: Beware of flip flops this summer!

Shoes should have a flexible sole, no positive heel, a toe box wide enough to fit all toes comfortably (the space where the toes are should also not slope up and away from the ground) AND the shoe should be firmly attached to the foot. Flip flops don't have an ankle strap and your toes have to grip to hold onto the shoe. This causes tightness in the front of the foot and changes the natural gait pattern. 

Resources:
Katy Bowman's book "Whole Body Barefoot"
My upcoming "From the Feet Up" Workshop (above book is included)
Find your local Restorative Exercise / Healthy Foot Specialist 

 

 

 

Comments

Do you know of any local stores that sell minimalist shoes? I am hesitant to order online...

You can browse local shoe stores and find shoes that somewhat fulfill the healthy feet criteria but the real selection is to be found online. MEC and other outdoor stores carry the Merrell line and of course the Vibram 5 Fingers but Merrell is discontinuing their minimal line altogether. (Another story). Soft Star Shoes for example would have to make their shoes even more expensive if they were to sell it to dealers who then sell it to the end-user (you and me). They have a very good return policy, too. If you have your eyes on a certain shoe but are unsure with sizing, I might be able to help you. Some companies (like unshoe sandals) even do custom sizing.

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