Calling all wanna be Barefoot Warriors
BAREFOOT or not to BAREFOOT that seems to be the question....
If you’re not a barefoot junkie, then maybe now is the time to try it!
I get a lot of patients coming into clinic with foot pain, plantarfasciaitis, calf/achilles issues and more...to name just a few. The chain actually goes all the way up to knee pain and hip issues, the back and so on!
If we could just learn to use our feet and strengthen them and mobilise them back to the shape they should be, this would eliminate many issues. I myself had years of back pain, and collapsed arches in my feet, tight calf and even achilles and plantar pain too. I wasn’t even much of a high heel girl myself, but years of wearing shoes, any type of shoes, and running with flat arches, playing basketball pushing off of toes that were already turning inwards. The list goes on of dysfunctional signs in the feet, but take off your shoes and socks, have a look down at those beauties and say honestly to yourself, do they look like good feet?! When you stand are the arches collapsing inwards, are there any spaces between the toes (between all of them ideally), are the big toes at an angle, are there claw toes (toes that look like they are constantly gripping on) do they seem/feel rigid and immovable, do they feel strong yet soft!?
My proposal to you, is find some time every day, now when we are maybe at home more, and can walk around barefoot, and use this time to dedicate to yourself to be at one with nature! Find a strip of grass, or the garden, or a park, or the beach or the downs if you’re lucky enough to live near/on those, and walk, barefoot. Reconnect to nature, the natural materials underfoot that when we walk on them strengthen our feet. Find time to spread the toes apart, do this many times, it gets easier….and even use one of those toe separators used to paint your nails, to give space, and spread them (note you can just sit and put your fingers between each toe and hold this like a stretch for a minute or 3….and at first maybe you cannot get all your fingers between and that’s ok, work up to it).
The more space we make between the toes, the more in natural alignment the feet become again. Then if we strengthen them (i will add a couple of exercises you can do to strengthen the feet/arches and toes too) then stretch them daily, these will eventually become pain free. It took me a while, but i had arthritis in my big toe and would have pain often in the cold, but also overusing/running etc….and I had flat feet (low arches). After an extended period without squashing my feet into shoes that didn’t fit well or have a wide space for the bridge of the foot (because this should always be the widest part of the foot) and strengthening my feet through yoga predominately and walking barefoot (all the exercises i will advise are often used in yoga practices too) I went from flat feet to a good neutral arch (lifted off the floor naturally when standing). Let’s start at the bottom and see the effect it has on up the chain.
I don’t recommend running barefoot or even walking miles on hard (i.e. concrete) surfaces especially not to begin with. This is a process, but let’s start somewhere, and where is better than nature. Do get in touch for more information or book an online consultation for more in-depth and personalised exercise programs etc.
And take it as an opportunity to reconnect to nature. This time we are experiencing is forcing us to slow down and reconnect...so take it. It’s a gift.
For the barefoot exercise plan please send me an email on email@example.com
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Top left we have toes spread with space (ok not the most perfect feet but bare with me ;))
Arches are lifting outwards ankles have space.
Then to the top right the toes have no space and bunched together, this cause or caused by the arches collapsing in and the ankles have no space, almost touching, would likely kick one another when running.
The bottom left and right simply showing good toes and naughty toes if you like...and notice then the tenison moving up in to the ankle joint just by handing the toes tight and tense and bunched together, big toe angling inwards and no space….the bottom left shoes my OM foot (my right foot) has a popping tendon in the front of the ankle, compared to just good definition on the OM foot on the bottom right diagram.
The arch on the bottom right diagram of my left foot is also tense but flat…
I could talk for hours about the whys and hows but let’s start by doing something, even if that something is just spending some time walking on a natural surface, mother earth herself. Or standing tall with some good foot posture, finding balance, or simply connecting.