Your feet are your foundation for alignment and whole body wellness.
Sadly, most common footwear is not supportive to our foot’s natural shape and causes a cascade of misalignment and health issues that stem from our feet.
To explore this issue, I worked with a patient to document her story to give you a real life example.
During an initial patient consultation, I am thorough in examining the whole body and how each area relates to other areas. Everything is connected.
With the feet, I begin by examing the achilies to see how it is lined up, if there is bowing or misalignment. This shoes what type of rotation is affecting the patient.
Did you know there are three different arches in the foot? Most only know of one arch, but there are actually three (transverse, medial, and lateral).
I place my finger under the foot to determine if a person naturally has a flat foot or if the arch has dropped. It’s all about the why.
The feet and hands are very intricate parts of the body. There are muscles between each bone, ligaments holding everything together, tendons coming off, wrapped in sheaths – many layers of intricacies.
Problems arise when we wear shoes that are not right for our feet. I wish it were a simple matter of naming a brand that makes “good shoes”, but our foundation is more personal than that.
A shoe that is right for one patient may be wrong for another.
Common foot issues caused by improper footwear include:
Plantar fascitis – often stems from the medial arch dropping.
Bunyons – Bunyons are often caused by shoes that compress the transverse arch, compressing it, and causing the joint space to shift. Over time, calcification occurs and throws off the hips and spine, as well.
Avoiding these issues is, of course, preferable. If you are already suffering from foot pain, the best time to take action is now.
Just as you exercise other areas of the body, the feet also need attention. I recommend doing “Monkey Toes”.
How to do Monkey Toes
- Place a scarf or wash rag on the ground and use your toes to pick it up and move it. Try with both feet.
- Give a thumbs up with your big toe and hold that position for 10 seconds. Then reverse that motion and give a thumbs down with your big toe.
- Curl all the toes in, then send them back
Let’s Talk SHOES!
Women are told in the media that to be attractive and powerful we must wear high heels.
When wearing high heels, everything is elevated – calves tighten, bottom tilts upward, pelvis is tilted. It is for all these reasons that high heels wreak havoc on our bodies.
Not to mention, the space for our toes takes all sorts of odd shapes! Pointy toe heels, square toe, rounded.
What if your toes are not pointy, square, or rounded? What happens to your feet?
Well, problems happen! We may rationalize that we only wear these for short spurts, but any amount of time spent in improper footwear is damaging to our bodies.
If you must wear high heels, I suggest choosing shorter, more blocky heels that offer more stability and put less strain on the body.
When your toes are gripping for stability, your nerves are strained and your muscles are doing a lot of behind the scenes work to keep you upright.
See real life examples
For this patient, her feet had fallen arches, as well as a misaligned talus bone.
The talus bone sits on top of the heel bone, the tibia (shin bone) sits on top of that. So when the talus bone is off, the shin bone is unsure of its position. This causes muscles to combat that, and in turn, inflammation and pain.
The patient had experienced shin splint pain years ago, causing her to have custom orthotics created. At age 18 with shin splints from simple walking, this was out of desperation.
Shin splints often inflict runners and athletes, so developing such a painful issue from simple walking is a red flag that misalignment is the root cause.
However, the patient didn’t come to Gentle Chiropractic for issues with her feet. She actually came to her consultation due to debilitating migraine headaches.
Over the course of her foot and legs adjustments, her feet began to strengthen and use muscles that had been sitting on the bench for year.
We examined her footwear and noticed a number of issues and wear patterns that indicated misalignment.
I also discovered that the custom orthotics she wore were no longer serving her needs. As her feet changed for the better during the adjustments, the orthotics were still crafted for her previous misalignment.
I recommended a store bought orthotic to use that is less expensive than custom built orthotics and works well for her needs now.
Each season, I examine new shoes for her and make sure they work well for her feet.
In the summer, we found that Chaco’s worked well. Birkenstocks, on the other hand, did not meet her needs.
In the fall, Merrell boots worked well for casual wear and Cole Haan riding boots for a dressier look.
For her pronation issue, Asics running shoes offered support and counters that problem.
Updating your shoe wardrobe can be daunting, but if you go season by season and prioritize your health along the way, you will see a big impact.
Quick Tips to begin your journey to foot health
- Find supportive footwear for YOUR feet.
- Take your shoes off correctly – untie the laces and ease your foot in and out of shoes.
- Practice Monkey Toes exercises.
- Find a trusted chiropractor to adjust your feet and examine your footwear.
Schedule your consultation.