We live in a society where wearing shoes in public places is normal and probably for good reason since it would be not hygienic. Walking barefoot on public grounds/floors would be a recipe for athlete’s foot and plantar warts. So it’s understandable that we walk with shoes on for most of the day.
However, that doesn’t go without consequences. 87% of humans will experience some form of foot issues at some point in their life. Part of the contributing factor is your shoes for two reasons.
1) The width of your shoes
Most of the shoes out there are too narrow which bring your toes closer together then they are supposed to. This can lead to bunions and other anatomical deformities in the foot that can cause injury and make your feet less stable on the ground. Below is a picture of how spread apart your toes should be!
2) The cushion in your shoes
The more support your shoes have, the less your foot muscles have to work when you are walking, running, or lifting. Which can be good in some cases if you are dealing with acute foot issues. However, like any other muscle group, they need to be trained. Shoes often become a crutch for foot dysfunction which doesn’t just lead to foot injuries but also knee, hip, and back issues potentially. A recent study actually showed people who experienced plantar fasciitis actually had signs of tendonosis of the plantar fascia when evaluated which means the discomfort might have been caused by the tissue degenerating and becoming too weak to support the foot.
So what should you do?
Well first, get a wide toe box shoe that allows you spread your toes and perhaps purchase a toe spreader that you wear 30 minutes per day to get your toes aligned in optimal position. The second thing you should do is incorporate foot strengthening exercises that include:
**Do 3 x 10 reps of each 2-3x/week
Towel curls – put towel down on hard surface and use your toes to curl up the towel as much as possible
Bodyweight Squats(Barefoot)- While performing the squat, think about grabbing the floor with your toes and maintain the foot tension throughout the movement
Calf Raises(Barefoot)- Feet relatively close together, press through pads of feet to elevate heels off the ground and think about grabbing the floor to maintain foot tension throughout the movement
If you are experiencing tightness or discomfort in your feet I recommend using a lacrosse ball and rolling out the plantar fascia area for 5 mins per foot before performing the exercises!
If you want to learn more about what you can do to improve your foot health, you know where to find me!
The Foot Collective