Let’s talk about you and me, Let’s talk about all the good things And the bad things that may be.
Let’s talk about feet. This is something that the vast majority of us have in common with each other as well as many of our pets.
Check out that bro’s toes. They’re all splayed out. Now take a look at your toes. Odds are that they’re in shoes right now, or that they look like they’re in shoes right now. Do they look like they’ve been crowded and smushed into a cone? Maybe. Let’s talk about feet.
Feet are the Rodney Dangerfield of the human body; They get no respect! We treat them like they’re simply wedges for us to walk around on, but they’re far more than that.
There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and hundreds of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot. More than a quarter of the bones in your body (206 total) are in your foot. When we look at a sensory motor scale drawing of the body, you’ll see the significance.
Areas with large input/output are enlarged, and you can quickly notice that those are prominantly areas of the 5 senses; we see, hear, taste, and smell our outside world. We also touch it, and most of the time this means using our hands. We should also use our feet.
Wearing footwear is like walking around wearing drunk goggles or ear plugs the entire day. Of course you can still get stuff done, but you’re depriving and distorting prime sensory input! When barefoot style training became popular several years ago there was a cold-turkey cult following to being barefoot.
Walk barefoot. Run barefoot. Attend happy hour barefoot. Go to business meetings barefoot. Sleep in your socks if your toes get cold! (Okay, they didn’t say that, but I do.)
Rather than worrying about dodging debris as you try to run down your street, a more simple and practical approach is in order. Where do we start?
Wear comfortable footwear.
It’s simple, but vastly underestimated. Shoes make a huge difference during your training, but they make a bigger difference for the 22-23 hours that you’re spending outside of the gym. If you’re wearing a pair of minimalist shoes while you train and spending another 12 hours each day in stilletos, those Nike Frees won’t really be making a huge difference. They sure as hell help, but it would behoove all of us to find shoes for our daily routine with a wider toe box and a lower heel.
Just don’t get too carried away balancing foot health and fashion.
Massage Those Puppies!
Your feet want a massage. Your whole body wants a massage, but your feet in particular want some loving, especially after you pull them out of the those shoes. A lacrosse ball, golf ball, or similarly sized ball can be your foots best friend. Several minutes of rolling your feet spread throughout the day is one of the simplest things that you can do to help loosen your friends up.
If you’re truly pressed for time, you can gently massage your feet while you gently massage your gums; Spend a minute on each foot while you’re brushing your teeth. (Loving on podiatrists and dentists today!)
Let Them Move
Your feet have to move, but not in the way you’ve heard about. Going cold-turkey and ditching footwear all-together is a sure-fire recipe to injuring yourself, which defeats the purpose all together. We don’t want that, and your feet don’t want that. Instead, provide them with some low level movement; practice shifting weight and shifting through different stances. Here’s a simple drill to feet that weight shift.
Take Some Weight Off
But not necessarily by losing weight. Instead, share the weight with your hands. Crawl.
Reacclimatizing your feet to the outside world is important, but the benefits are best seen when you tie that into the rest of your body. One of the very best things that you can do is crawl. Your feet and hands provide a great deal of information to your brain and to your core, and allowing your feet to reset with your core is essential for feeling better and moving well. Keep those shoes off, drop to all fours, and boogie!
Crawling is up on the list of “Things you should do everyday!” Do it. Not only is it great for your movement quality, but it’s great for strength development and conditioning. Stay low and level and crawl like a boss!
Treat Your Feet
Keeping your feet happy isn’t very difficult, but it’s a key part of moving well, feeling well, and getting the most out of your training. Spend more time barefoot (at home), progress to more minimalist training footwear, and take heed of higher heels. Massage your feet several times during the day, and remind your feet of their role in balance and movement.
Most everyone has feet, and taking care of them can be the Salt-n-Pepa to improve any training program. Thing is, how many people do you know train their feet? Be one of them. Be a movement rock-star.