2018 is coming to an end and we would like to offer you some free tips(who despite the theme, don't stink) during the Holiday Seasons that will help you live a healthier life and possibly fix some aches and pain you might be having.
Hope this help. We appreciate comments, anecdotes and stories you might have regarding a specific tip. Happy Holidays!
TIP #1: Avoid Shoes with a High “Heel to Toe” Offset
Heel to toe offset is the amount of drop from your heel to your toes within the shoe.
The higher the offset (think high heels and stilettos), the higher the stress placed on our feet and lower legs. This makes us standing and walking in an unnatural way. It also has terrible consequences for your low back health in the long run. Humans are designed to walk around with little to no offset (i.e. barefoot is a zero offset).
TIP #2: Spend More Time Working On Your Balance
Our feet are relatively small but they are tasked with supporting a large and constantly shifting mass above them. It’s actually baffling that we all don’t walk around with foot & ankle pain 24/7! Balance and agility are as important as strengthening, and making sure you work on them not only reduce the chance of injury such as an ankle sprain or fracture, but also allow the body to function in a more efficient manner. As we get older in our golden years, our balance naturally deteriorates thus making a fall more likely to occur. This can have devastating consequences, particularly in the older population. Maintaining appropriate balance is critical.
TIP #3: Stretch Your Calf
We spend a greta part of our life ( for some not enough) walking. Many people use walking as their main mean of exercise. But frankly, most of us have poor flexibility in the muscles, tendons and/or joints in the ankle and foot and our lower limbs. Only because we never take the time to stretch them. Research has demonstrated that numerous painful conditions which impact the foot & ankle are either caused or influenced by tightness. By taking the time to stretch every day, or at least several times a week, we can improve our mobility and allow the body to move in a more efficient manner, decreasing abnormal loading of tissues, like your Achilles tendon for exemple, which can reduce the chances of developing a painful condition which will impact your daily function.
So next time you catch yourself yawning and stretching your arms and back in the morning( which we all do…to various degrees), don’t forget to give your calves and feet some love by stretching ;-)
TIP #4: Replace your footwear regularly
TIP #5: Wear Flat Shoes With Room For Your Toes
TIP #6: Strengthen your Calves and Ankles
By strengthening the muscles in the foot and ankle the likelihood of developing injuries such as an ankle sprain or those associated with repetitive overuse syndromes decreases significantly. The calf muscles get generally most of the attention when it comes to strengthening in this region of the body. Here is one way to strengthen your calves:
TIP #7: Strengthen your Toes and Ankles
Strengthening your toes helps keep a normal gait pattern, prevent excessive repetitive stress and load on other joints, helps maintain a normal arch ( your foot type and what your foot looks like when you bear weight cannot be attributed to your genetics/ family history only). A strong foot helps your knee and hip move and perform better.
TIP #8: Strengthen your toes & arch
The muscle and tendons that curl your toe assist in maintaining the natural arch of your foot. Keeping you flexors hallucinate braves and longus, flexor digitorum longus and your lumbricals strong are essentials for the health and normal mobility of your foot. Remember your feet’s function is to hold and support significant weight from the rest of your body. What do you think happened to them if the arch becomes weak and overstretch?
This simple exercise is often overlook:
TIP #9: Strengthen Your Toes !
As mentioned earlier, your feet are your base.
Your base must remain strong for the rest of your body to be. Most shoes, because of the excessive sole, cushioning and the lack of space for your toes, cause the muscles in our feet and lower legs to become weak and not function optimally. Not wearing shoes is not really an option in the modern world, and although we can all walk around barefoot at home to keep our feet strong, we then need to actively work at keeping our feet strong.
Big Toe Flexion: Start by raise up all toes while keeping your heel and ball of the foot on the floor. Then lower the big toe to the floor, keeping all other toes up.
Arch up: Keeping foot flat on the floor, try to elevate your arch higher. Do this without scrunching your toes or turning your knee out. ( see previous post)
Big Toe Extension: With your foot flat on the floor, raise your big toe while keeping other toes, and heel on floor.
Big Toe and Little Toe Flexion: Keeping ball of foot and heel down, raise up all toes. Now lower your little toe to the floor while keeping the other toes up. One the little toe is down, lower the big one to the floor. When done properly, your foot should be on floor with big and little toes down with the middle three elevated. This is super hard to do and will require practice.
TIP #10: LET YOUR TOES SPLAY!
One way to pamper our feet and let them function the way they were meant to is to remove your shoes and walk barefoot after torturing your feet in narrow shoes all day. If the exercises from the previous post are difficult and you think you have poor dexterity with your toes, wearing toe spreaders can help regain mobility and motor control as they promote recruitment of your toe and feet muscles by keeping them in a splayed position. It takes time getting used to at first.
I have personally used toe spreaders and within 2 short months, my feet mobility improved significantly, along with my balance.
Of course, they are not a substitute for the exercises previously described but are a good adjunct.
TIP #11: PAMPER YOUR FEET!
Our feet are designed to be robust, accept load from our body weight and are our anchor to the ground. Like you would stretch your back, your hips, shoulder or neck, they need sometimes a little loving to stay healthy, strong flexible and pliable all at the same time.
Using a foam roller and lacrosse ball can help you self massage and move the area that can typically get sore. Not only from running…but also from plain old walking and standing.
* You can also use a lacrosse ball in the same manner, “rolling out” tight and tender spots.
Most people that are already doing the above work on bottom of feet and their calf but often forget to stretch your toes one by one, through their entire range of motion ( up, down and sideways). Don’t be that person.
TIP #12: Get Assessed by A Physical Therapist
Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT, CMP has been a physiotherapist for 19 years and has a passion for helping people move better, return from and prevent injuries, as well as improve their function and quality of life. He has a strong interest in addressing the root cause of and treating neuro-musculoskeletal conditions while educating his patients with the knowledge to manage their conditions and prevent recurrence. Pierre also has a niche in treating Bell's palsy and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions.