Let's talk about feet..baby. Let's talk about feet. (Salt-N-Pepa vibes, anyone?)
Think about this for a second. You are on your feet constantly, all day, every day, for your entire life. Imagine how much care something needs with all that wear and tear! A lot! You have around 72,000 nerve endings in each foot. And they contain more sensitive nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body. East Asian medicine has treated various illnesses and symptoms by simply accessing the right nerves with the feet. They believed that every organ and system in your body is connected through different meridians, a set of pathways in the body along which vital energy is said to flow, of energy that ends in your feet, hands, ears, and face.
The average human walks about 100,000 miles in a lifetime. With a lot of runners and avid hikers walking well over that amount. That’s a lot of stress on our feet. It’s not surprising, then, that lower back pain, headaches, indigestion, and spine misalignment are often related to foot problems. There are 26 bones in each foot which makes up about a quarter of all bones in the entire body. We also have 33 joints, 19 muscles, 10 tendons, and 107 ligaments in each foot. Now that you know a little more about your feet, it's time to learn a few things that you can do to take care of them.
1. Walk Barefoot When You Can
A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health titled “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons” proposes that earthing, AKA walking barefoot, could represent a potential treatment for a variety of chronic degenerative diseases.
Another article published by, Journal of Inflammation Research, suggests that "Multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases."
These are just a couple of the benefits of walking barefoot. You can check out the many others by reading this article! Not to mention, have you ever walked on nice, cold, healthy, grass? Wooo boy, you're missing out. Go get those feet dirty!
Walking barefoot can Increase all of this:
Strength: Re-develop the foot muscles that you have essentially put into a cast, thus becoming weak due to wearing shoes that restrict foot movement.
Balance: Become more in-tune with the ground through sensory experiences, allowing your brain to develop neural connections which will result in improved balance.
Posture: Place your body into a more natural alignment, often leading to a healthier posture and less strain on your joints.
Reflexology: walking barefoot on objects, such as rocks, acts as a massage in your feet leading to improved energy, organ function, circulation, and more.
2. Wear Barefoot Shoes
Oh, modern footwear. We hate you. Dope designs and stuff but damn! Can't you just make footwear made for the human foot? Allow us to explain. The human foot was NOT made for shoes in the first place. Seems obvious but hey..to each their own.
Modern footwear promotes tight toe boxes that squeeze your toes together when in reality we want wide toe boxes to allow our toes to spread. This allows your foot muscles to work and be more flexible and strong which in turn creates a strong base.
Another con about modern footwear is the promotion of heel raises. Again, if our bodies had a heel raise, then it makes sense but our feet don't need that! That's why we don't already have it, nor have we EVER had that in our natural foot. Here's why you don't want a heel raise: arch issues, Achilles issues, and a shortened, weaker posterior chain. Just to name a few. The side effects may be seldom however, we all know that a bunch of seldom issues add up to more major issues.
Here are a couple of good brands of shoes you can trust
3. Wear Toe Spacers
Since most people reading this have probably been subjects of the modern footwear plague, you should think about getting some toe spacers. Some great ones we wear daily are by Correct Toes. This promotes you getting your toes back to how they should be; spread out. Again, you're going to reap all kinds of benefits from doing this. If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you've probably seen us wearing and talking about these!
For more info on this, please check out this page from Correct Toes
Along the same lines as wearing toe spacers, this will allow your toes to move freely as they should! Some socks are too tight and squeeze your toes together, like shoes with narrow toe boxes. Injinji makes some amazing socks! OR don't wear socks at all, that would be best. But maybe not for the people around you after you take your shoes off? We'll let you decide that. (It could get a little stinky)
Overall going barefoot will make you feel healthier and make for better movement. What are some other ways you take care of your feet?