How often do you think about the health and mobility of your feet? Chances are not that much, unless they cause you pain or discomfort. Perhaps you get cramp in your feet, or maybe you have bunions. If you do have some issue you probably pay attention to them, because of something going ‘wrong’.
But we should all be paying attention to our feet because they are incredibly important for the overall health of your body and your ability to move well. Here is why your feet deserve more attention and some of the benefits that you can gain from working on your feet.
Your feet are your foundation
Humans are bipedal creatures – meaning we stand on two feet. Our upright stance is made possible by our feet and their flexibility, adaptability and tripod-like form structure.
The human foot bears weight through three points: the heel; below the big toe; and below the little toe. These three points essentially create a sort of tripod structure, which is an inherently stable shape. Think about a stool and how easy it is for it to stay upright and how stable it is. Your feet are essentially two mobile, adaptable tripods that enable you to stand, walk, balance and move around the world.
Just as you would always want to build a house on steady foundations, so should we want to improve the conditions of our feet to create a solid foundation for the rest of our bodies and for most of our movement!
Feet propel you forwards
One of the most basic human movements is walking. It’s the fundamental means by which we move ourselves from one place to another place. Although walking requires a complex set of movements to happen it’s something we take for granted, as it’s one of the first complex movements we learn as babies.
Power in your feet is the first element required within walking to enable everything else to move. Improving how your feet function will thus create improvements in walking, running and jumping. Even if you don’t do any ‘exercise’, you definitely walk every single day of your life – to get up to go to the bathroom, to get food, or to move you from one place to another.
Feet help you balance well
As we’ve just covered, walking is an incredibly important movement. In order to walk, you need to be able to balance on one foot, over and over again – 80% of walking is actually you standing on one foot.
Balance in day to day life is important too! We should be able to stand steadily on both feet, not falling over, well into our old age. But recent research shows that on average, our ability to balance is getting worse, across almost all ages! This could be because we have increasingly sedentary lifestyles, where we move around less and therefore practice balancing less frequently.
Reduce knee/ hip/ neck/ back pain
If you have knee pain, hip issues, neck pain or back pain, it might be worth working on your feet. Restrictions in your foot mobility can contribute to issues higher up in your body, because, as mentioned before, your feet are your foundations!
If you have low back pain or pain in your neck, mobilising your feet could reduce the pain you’re experiencing. Connective tissue runs in a continual line from the soles of your feet up through your lower back and up to your neck, so releasing tension or tightness in your plantar fascia could help reduce symptoms higher up the chain.
Everything is connected
In order to understand something complex, we often want to break it down into individual parts and learn about the smaller parts separately. You often see and hear the human body talked about in this way – looking at individual parts separately. Whilst there is definitely a benefit from doing that it can miss the bigger picture. It sounds a bit cliche but everything in the human body is connected. Working on your feet can create massive benefits to your balance, the way you walk, as well as your hips, knees and spine. So, if you’ve never done it before, why not try some exercises for your feet and see whether it helps you to move better and more freely.