How to Ruin Your Feet Part 2…

Imagine that you have injured your hand and that the doctor has put a cast on your hand and told you that that would give you immediate relief. And it did. And then the doctor said that because the cast gave you so much relief, that that meant you needed to wear the cast indefinitely, cause after all, it was helping.  Would you accept this for your hand? Wouldn’t you demand a 2nd opinion or at least physical therapy to rehabilitate your hand? And yet this is the situation most folks find themselves in with their feet. They are told to get orthotics for their plantar fasciitis and their heel spurs and their plantar neuromas and to wear those orthotics pretty much all the time.

So this is your 2nd opinion about your painful feet.

• First off, let’s all admit to wearing the wrong footwear: the sexy footwear, the high heels, the strapless sandals, the too narrow footwear, and the too short footwear. So first things first, stop wearing that stuff and stop telling the footwear industry that you want to buy that stuff. The footwear industry will change its offerings if you stop buying crap.

I hear the moans and groans already.

• Second, start rehabilitating your feet! There are many ways and methods to do this and it will take some effort on your part. Here are some choices and why they work:

  • Stretching exercises: these are simple to do and help some folks. Doing these daily is what counts.
  • Walk often on sand, dirt, grass, smooth pebbles, pebbly surfaces, and shag carpeting. Why does this help? Most of you have collapsed the arches of your feet. You CAN regain your arches by exercising your feet again. Take your feet out of their cast (orthotic rigid shoes) and exercise them. Pick up marbles with your toes. Push and pull a rag on the floor with your toes. Yes, exercise those muscles and you will have less pain. Additionally, walking on uneven and nubby surfaces increases the proprioception in your feet, making you less likely to fall and exercising those little muscles that have atrophied from being in rigid shoes.
  • Regain your pelvic floor muscle strength! Yes many women (and probably men too) collapse their arches by having weak pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are the ones helped by Kegel exercises, by deep Yoga and by Pilates training. Improving your pelvic floor muscle tone has many side benefits including: less hemorrhoids, better sexual response, less urinary incontinence, better overall posture… and less aching feet.
  • And after you get rid of your orthotics, what should you wear on your feet to rehabilitate them? Avoid rigid soles!!!  Ever since the invention of sports shoes and walking shoes in the 1960’s, there have been more foot injuries than ever. Avoid those shoes. Avoid rigid shoes, rigid soles and rigid lacing. Choose shoes with a very flexible sole or minimal sole like Nike Free brand, Vibram 5 Finger brand and shoes with Vibram 5 Finger soles. This will keep your toes wide and allow your feet to flex and move around inside your shoe. A shoe is really about protecting you from concrete and from sharp objects and oil, water, spittle, and dog poo. Other than that, a shoe can prevent your foot from moving and that will eventually result in the pain and strain of collapsed arches.
  • Oh, and how should you walk? Should you walk heel toe, heel toe? I know that is what you have been taught. It is bunk. The Barefoot Running people know how to walk. The Alexander Technique people know how to walk. Do not do heel toe heel toe; that heel strike will create heel spurs and that will mean pain. And besides, the heel toe strike pattern looks like you belong to the Third Reich…not good, not sensible, and not pain free.
  • Homeopathy can help you with the inflammation you have in the tendons and muscles of your feet. It can help acutely and it can help for chronic inflammation due to deeper factors like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Arnica lotion or gel is available at most Health Food stores and can be used safely by most everyone after a long day on your feet. A more personalized approach is needed for more chronic foot pain.        Let me know how I can help.

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