Feet – some people love them others loath them .. but there’s one thing certain for all, we kinda need them to live out lour lives as a functioning human being. While we may have originated from 4 legged creatures, today, our 2 legged existence is pretty unique in the world of mammals and as such we need to think deeper as to how much of a influence our feet have on our movement and health.
There are few things we use or rely on as much as we do our feet, from our first step to our last we depend on them to keep us moving, to move from point A to point B, to run a 5k, to squat a barbell, climb a mountain or swim in the sea. They go through a lot, and just like all things in our body, the more it’s used, the more ‘wear and tear’ is experienced. With this in mind, we must pose the question – How important are they to our health and secondly what can we do to keep their function levels up for life?
It’s safe to say, the importance of stretching, releasing & activating stiff muscles within the body is a well researched concept. A concept that most gym goers adopt into their own training routine in some way, shape of form. You only have to walk inside a gym to see a bunch of people using foam rollers, lacrosse balls and resistance bands to manipulate hips, knees, shoulders and backs … but when is the last time you saw someone stretch their feet before training? I mean, it seems logical that we would offer attention to something so integral to our ability to train? Yet again, it is rare, if not exceptionally rare to ever see anyone address their foot function prior to hitting their barbell work in the gym, hit the road for their 5k run or step on to the pitch for their GAA training session.
So let’s begin with understanding the foot on a basic level. Each foot has 26 bones – a mixture of tarsals, cuneiform, phalanges, navicular and cuboid bones. 26 bones in such a small section of the body already should point to it’s importance in terms of function for the rest of the body! With these 26 bones, come heaps of muscles, tendons and ligaments – all of which never truly get a rest. (not even when you sit!)
We can appreciate that when little to no rest or attention is offered to such a complexed element of our body, things can begin to go wayward with it’s function. This can then begin to have a domino’s effect upwards of the foot / ankle .. and thus knee pain, hip pain, lower back pain can all become prevalent in day to day life & training. Just like a house, if the foundations are off, so too are the walls … the feet are the foundation to the skeleton, i.e our structure. So their stability, strength and function are crucial for the rest of our body!
Now, most people will have never considered foot function in their training, in fact many people don’t offer thought to the intrinsic muscles in their feet – but just as with all muscles, for strength to be improved, specific attention needs to be given. As the foot becomes inhibited over years of ‘neglect’ it tends to adapt in the form of changing where your body balances, where the pressure is dispersed through your feet and how active your toes are in keeping you moving forward. Don’t believe us? Try stand on 1 leg without your foot/ankle shaking wildly or without the feeling of instability occurring ( now imagine what’s happening when you’re trying to squat a heavy barbell, perform a heavy deadlift or simply walk down the road!). This lack of ‘access’ to your foots natural ability is, in many cases, the route problem to knee, hip, back pain. It’s essential to health!
Flattened aches, bunions, tight ankles, sore and angled toes are all a bi-product of poor functioning feet. Just think of how much strength you could obtain with improved access to the muscles in your feet! Just think of how much extra pressure & impact your knee, hip and lower back is absorbing every day due to poor foot function. Now multiply that pressure by years of neglect and poor footwear … you can begin to join the dots right?
So if you have had on-going pain, tried all the physio yet still see no long-term improvement … perhaps look towards the foot, it will direct you as to where the problem lies.
If you prefer to have a professional assess and test things, feel free to reach out – we have the solution.