Your feet, your sweet, beautiful feet. Do they get the love that need? Do your toes get to wiggle free in the grass, do your soles get to kiss the earth?
Our feet are deserving of so much love and care; those 33 joints, 26 bones and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments are designed to move, and move well. As our early human ancestors were evolving, our feet evolved to be adapted to the environment, not to shoes. From rocks, hills, mountains, savannah, no matter the terrain, we were walking barefoot.
Think about that for a moment. How far away do your feet feel from your early human ancestors? What would it take for you to be able to easily walk barefoot for many miles in any type of natural topography with out pain or suffering? For most of us, the feet we would need for that type of walking is a far cry from the feet we currently have. And yet, the feet we come into the world with have that very potential. But us modern humans in the western world encase the foot's potential right away in shoes, quite often stiff, immobile ones at that.
With 25% of your body's bones, muscles and nerves located in your feet, this means the movement potential of your feet is vast. And not just thinking about our early ancestor's foot life but also those in our modern age that have no choice but to use their feet as hands. Can you play a guitar, paint or brush your teeth with your feet?
Your Feet in Shoes
Let's talk nerves for a moment. You have more nerve endings in your feet than anywhere else in the body. Nerve signals transmit information from the ground to your brain about what kind of ground you are standing or walking on. This information helps your brain figure out joint position, muscle tension and balance. This neruomechanical feedback loop is vital for for the overall structure and mobility of your body. Yet when we wear shoes that feedback loop is dulled. Think about when wearing gloves on your hands and trying to do a simple movement such as writing with a pencil or putting a key in a lock, it would be a tricky to do! And of course the same goes for your feet in shoes.
Feet & Hips: So close yet so far away
“Made up of twenty-five percent of the body’s bones and muscles, and articulating around thirty-three joints, our feet have the potential to deform subtlety, thus sending valuable information to the body’s center of mass (located in the pelvis). The tiny stretches in between every one of each foot’s twenty-six bones are a gold mine of proprioception that allow the pelvis to make three-dimensional positional adjustments based on these tiny movements.”— Katy Bowman
Yes, yes and yes. The health of your feet is directly related to the health of your legs and pelvis. I love that yoga is practiced barefoot (yay!) and in yoga we spend so much time working on our flexibility in our hamstrings and strengthening of our legs and quite often overlook one, actually two, vital parts of the equation... you guessed it, your feet!
Awakening to the relationship between your feet and your pelvis and hip joints can make a huge difference to many of your aches and pains and help to keep you healthy and spry as you age.
I could go on and on about shoes and feet and how very vital they are to our overall health. But the longer I am on the computer, the less I am outside and barefoot. So here are a few links for further reading and perspective on what healthy, happy feet mean and some simple changes you can make right away towards foot love in your life.
Here is a great 10 minute video to put the love back into your feet!
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