On the surface you’d think that there’s no way that car tyres and bunions have anything in common. Allow me to enlighten you!
Let’s start by thinking about the direction of your feet – your ‘feet tracking’.
Just like car tyres, our feet need to be pointing forwards and in the same direction for a smooth ride!
Have you ever driven a car where the wheel tracking is off? The misalignment of the tyres’ direction causes visible damage. Tyres wear out in places that they shouldn’t and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a hefty bill. If only you’d sorted out the tracking when you first noticed that it was a bit off!
You can apply the same principle to your feet. When they are not pointing forwards as they’re intended to, they too will cause harm and premature wear and tear.
How clever are our bodies?
Over thousands of years our bodies have evolved perfectly to match the way we use them. And our feet have evolved too, not just to support us, or help us balance, they’ve evolved so that we move in the most energy efficient way possible – and that’s to walk.
To walk efficiently our feet must make contact with the ground. This causes force to travel up through our legs, our pelvis, our spine, and our shoulders.
When the feet make perfect contact and are pointing forwards, the walking action and the force is optimised. But if our feet tracking is out of alignment, the force alters which has a negative impact on our muscles and joints, in particular our ankles, knees, hips, and spine.
Toes that turn out
When you walk, your feet should move through an ‘S’ shape. As your heel strikes the floor, your foot should roll to the outer edge, becoming more mobile as it curves across to the base of your big toe via the ball of your foot. Here it becomes stiff again as your big toe pushes off to propel you forward.
But what if you’re not walking efficiently and your feet turn out as you move forwards? Without realising it you’ll be leaning into your inner arch more, preventing your foot from becoming stiff and propelling you forwards correctly. Pressure will increase around the joint of the big toe and as our body’s protective response kicks in you’ll build more bone – a bunion!
Parallel is best
Do you remember when you were little being taken to the shoe shop to have your feet measured? You’d be sticking your feet into that machine before you knew it and praying that the moving metal strips stopped when they touched your feet!
Well, that’s the position we should aim for. Feet that point forward with the outside edge of our feet in a straight line between the ankle bone and the outside edge of the little toe.
Ways you can improve your alignment
There are ways that you can perfect your walk and posture, but be patient! Here I’m going to tell you how you can work towards this goal, but you shouldn’t rush it, or force any change in position as you will end up putting pressure onto your joints causing even more problems.
Sadly, unlike taking a car to a garage for an afternoon, there’s no immediate fix when it comes to our muscles, joints, tendons, nerve endings, etc. Our ultimate machine needs careful handling! And the thing with solutions that are developed to bring balance to our bodies, like Pilates, is that they do take time – but making that first step to improve our bodies is so important.
Ok, here’s what you can do:
- Find a straight line on the floor.
- Take off your shoes and socks.
- Set the outside edge of one of your feet along the straight line.
- Place your other foot so that it matches the position.
If you don’t walk in perfect alignment, you may think that the positioning of your feet looks strange – it may even feel strange. It’s quite common for someone with an imbalance in their feet tracking to experience some discomfort in their knees doing this exercise, this is because more things are being forced to move in a different way other than the feet.
Use this awareness to make small adjustments. Focus on your feet and work towards the correct alignment. It’s good practice to consider your stance when you’re standing – do some shuffling until you’re standing correctly, and the weight balance is optimum.
Remember, little and often, and you’ll get there!
Come to Ormskirk Pilates
Here we take a full body approach which trains the core muscles in the most optimum way.
Please, come and join us and allow your body to get back to working the way it was intended.
If you feel that you could benefit from discovering more ways to strengthen your core to support your pelvic floor function, feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com.