The Foot and Ankle

Have you ever tried texting on your phone, or typing on your keyboard, while wearing a pair of gloves? If you haven’t ever, you should try it out! you’ll quickly realize you won’t be able to do either task efficiently with gloves on.

How about wearing a pair mittens? Surely, the tasks will only become harder than before. It makes sense to not cover up your hands while they need to be in use.

If you agree with me on that, then why should people constantly “immobilize” their feet with shoes? That deadened, muted feeling (or, lack of feeling) you get while wearing gloves during an activity requiring your hands happens in the same instant you throw on a pair of shoes.

Your feet, with their dense bundles of nerve-endings spread throughout, need to feel the surface that you stand on. They need to sense the environment so your nervous system can coordinate and balance your body during movement.

Rocky, mossy terrain.

Imagine traversing terrain such as the one above, with impaired coordination and balance. You’d be risking a dangerous slip or fall by doing so – and this is what people are doing exactly everyday. They strap on their boots and go for a hike. Sure, it’ll be your “safe” from rocks and other sharp objects, but isn’t that the job of callouses? When a person begins learning the guitar, they slowly form callouses on their finger-tips due to the stress induced on the skin. The same principle would apply for walking around barefoot.

What else do shoes screw up?

Well,  if you take a look at most shoes these days, they are much narrower in the fron than they are in the rest of the shoe. I find this funny, because, the human toes are supposed to spread out much wider than the rest of the foot. Now, do you think it would be a good idea to wrap your fingers up tightly for hours at a time, day after day, to the point of deformation?

Bunion progression.
Now, why would you do this to your toes if you wouldn’t do this to your fingers? I think “fashion” has ruined our anatomy to the point of disability and pain.

Another quarrel  I have with shoes? They also tend to have raised heels.

The reason why this is bad is because it leaves your ankles in a constant state of plantarflexion – meaning, you feet are always pointed down, slightly. This position shortens your calf muscle and Achilles tendon, and when left in this position, can physically shorten the muscle and tendon. This then limits your range of motion.

achillesA simple little wedge under the heel can have lasting damage to your ankle’s mobility. That means everything form walking to squatting is impaired. Doesn’t sound too nice, does it?

My solution to all of these issues? Take your shoes off! Let your soles FEEL the ground, let your toes SPREAD out, and let your ankles stretch and BE MOBILE.

Stretch those calves and Achilles’ tendon, using the techniques in the above video.

Strengthen those weakened toes of yours with the towel curl, seen in the above video.

And finally, walk barefoot.

If you can’t walk barefoot (for whatever excuse you come up with), I’ll offer you a viable alternative. Check out Vibram FiveFingers Shoes. They’re minimalist shoes that offer a barefoot experience. I have been using them since 2011 and have never looked back. These shoes are amazing. The two models that I use are the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSports and the Vibram Fivefingers TrekSports. Check them out!

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  1. Photo Credits
    Statue of foot. Author: Stewart Butterfield. flickr.com
    Bunions. Author: DrNealBlitz. commons.wikimedia.com
    Terrain. Author : Joshua Mayer. commons.wikimedia.com

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