Sometimes we forget that our feet play a critical role in our overall health and how we feel at the end of the day. With every foot fall forces are translated up the leg through the hip and into our spine. This can often result in multiple areas of aches and pains because of improperly translated forces. Understanding the mechanics of how our feet land, our arch type and how the right shoes or orthotics can help will significantly reduce these stresses.
When we walk, we land with our heel first, roll slightly to the inside where our arch distributes the forces, and we end with bringing the heel up springing into toe-off. There is a critical balance between our muscles, ligaments, fascia and joints that all work to keep this process properly aligned. However, this intricate network also provides numerous points where problems can occur causing stress to our body.
Here are a few easy tests to analyze the health of your feet and some options to correct any issues:
Take the wet foot test. When you come out of the shower, bath or pool look at your foot prints to see what shape they have. Use the image to see if you have a normal arch with normal levels of pronation (distributing weight to the inside of your foot), a flattened arch with excessive pronation or a high arch with supination (distributing weight to the outside of your foot).
Read your shoes. Take an old pair of your shoes and look at the wear patter on the sole. A neutral stride will have wear at the ball of the foot and the heel, over-pronation will result in wear at the inside edge of the shoe and supination will show wear at the outside edge of the shoe.
Get professional help. Go to a footwear store that will help you select the proper shoe for your arch type and one that can rebalance any abnormal foot mechanics. If you have a pair of shoes that you just cannot part with take them to the store and discuss the possibility of getting a set of reasonably priced orthotics. A knowledgeable staff will make all the difference – here is what they should do:
Measure each foot for its size seated and standing. Our feet can be different sizes; additionally, when we stand our foot size can increase by 1 or 2 sizes!
Next they should analyze how you walk or run (usually on a treadmill) first without shoes and then with shoes and/or with orthotics in your favorite pair.
If you get orthotics you should start by using them only 1-2 hours per day and double that time each week until you are wearing them all day. Orthotics can feel uncomfortable initially and create more foot fatigue if broken in improperly.
Keep your feet strong. To support the muscles in your feet and legs try some of these easy exercises:
Take your shoes off and write the alphabet with your feet.
Try to pick up an item off the ground with your toes.
Do some foot drills – walk 20 steps on your toes, on your heels, toes pointed in, toes pointed out, on the inside of your feet and on the outside of your feet.
Do these activities with professional assistance if you have a history of ankle or knee problems or if you have trouble balancing during these activities.
Keep in mind that your foot lands approximately 15,000 times each day. If you continue to have alignment issues or chronic gait problems don’t forget to give your chiropractor a call. Hopefully this will help you correct any problems and put a spring back into your step!
If you have any questions regarding this article, its contents or how we can help do not hesitate to contact us at Alternative Roots Wellness Center.