I’ve been blogging a lot lately about feet and shoes, and I promise this will be the last one (at least for a little while!). However, there is a method to my madness - the health of our feet is so incredibly important to our overall well-being, but unfortunately, they are often one of the most overlooked areas of our bodies. It’s time we start giving them the respect and appreciation that they deserve!
A couple of things you can do to drastically improve foot health are to transition to minimalist shoes, and to walk on varied terrain as much as possible. There wasn’t much in the way of pavement around when our ancestors were evolving, and ideally our feet would take on a slightly different shape with each and every step. However, if (like me) you live in an urban area, finding non-human-made surfaces to walk on is not such an easy task. What are you supposed to do if you can’t just walk out your front door and onto dirt trails, grassy meadows, gravel river banks, or sandy beaches? (That all sounds pretty amazing right now, by the way!) In this case, I've decide to make parking strips my friends. At the risk of looking not-quite-sane, I've gotten into the habit of veering onto patches of grass, bark, gravel...really, anything that has a non-pavement texture or density. Even if the majority of your walk is done on pavement, every new surface you walk on will have a positive impact on your foot and whole-body health.
What to do if your neighborhood has really boring parking strips, or you'd rather not risk encountering any doggy doo land mines? (I admit, I'm fairly selective about what grass I walk on, especially when wearing sandals or toe shoes.) A cool idea that some of my Restorative Exercise™ colleagues have been passing around is to get a boot tray and fill it with rocks from your local dollar store (or beach, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby). This is a great way to simulate walking on uneven terrain, and you can place it in front of your standing work station for a nice little foot workout even when you’re stuck in front of the computer. Try shifting your weight to each foot, stepping side to side, and picking the rocks up with your toes.
As great as this is, my standing work station (aka kitchen counter) is right in the middle of a main thoroughfare, and a certain family member was not so keen on tripping over it every time he walked by. So as a compromise, I took this idea a step further and drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the tray, and placed it in the tub. Now I’m guaranteed at least a few minutes of barefoot rock-standing a day without any added clutter in the rest of the house.
These are just a couple of things that I’ve worked into my daily life to increase my foot mobility and function, and therefore my whole-body mobility and function. Let me know if you find any other creative solutions for bringing your feet back to their natural state of well-being!