We don’t pay as much attention to our feet as we could. It seems that the only time we take notice of them is when they start hurting, aching or worse when we develop a blister after wearing unsuitable footwear.
But when you think about them, they’re pretty amazing. They’re relatively small in proportion to the rest of our bodies, yet they manage to hold us up. They really are our connection to the world.
The right connections
The way your feet make contact with the ground directly effects how the force travels up your body. And the way we hold ourselves also influences how the feet make contact.
Hmmmm, there might be more to standing and walking than meets the eye!
But let’s take a look at how our feet are designed to work. When we maintain a good alignment in our body our feet will support our entire body, provide us with ultimate balance and gift us with complete freedom of movement.
What’s in a foot?
Inside just one of our feet is 26 bones, 30 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and ligaments.
Most of the smaller bones, joints and soft tissues are found at the front of the foot, these help us with movement and mobility. While at the back you’ll find the heel bone which is just one big dense bone designed for weight bearing and stability.
Take care of the toe bones!
You may be guilty of doing this yourself, or you may have noticed others do this – I’m talking about using our forefoot to hold ourselves up instead of bearing our weight in our heels.
Putting weight continuously on the smaller bones and tissues of the feet forces the feet to work in a way that they’re not intended to. Another way of looking at it, is that they’re preventing their feet from performing the role they’re designed for.
This constant pressure on the forefoot may result in stress fractures, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other foot related issues. You’ll know if you develop any of these as they are super annoying and quite often very painful!
What causes someone to walk and stand on their forefoot?
It’s usually associated with a forward shift of the pelvis. This habit not only transfers the body weight forward into the forefoot, but it can also reduce mobility in the lower back and negatively affect the glutes’ (the muscles that make up our buttocks) capacity to be engaged.
And as the glutes’ muscles are our body’s most powerful this is pretty serious! We can’t afford for them to be in poor health as we need strong glutes for movement, to help support the spine and pelvis, and to ensure our pelvic floor functions correctly.
Find out where your weight is
It pays to establish where you distribute your weight. Fingers crossed it will be at your heel, but you never know! And finding out now before it becomes an issue could really pay off.
STEP 1: Ideally get a belt or something similar like a phone charger that’s long with a bit of a weight on the end.
STEP 2: Stand side on to a long mirror.
STEP 3: Let the heavier end of the measuring object drop towards the floor and place the end you are holding onto your hip.
STEP 4: Notice where the weight ends rests.
If the weight rests ahead of your ankle bone, your weight is forward of the heel and into the forefoot.
Should the weight be ahead of your ankle bone, try to shift your weight back into your heels. To do this:
- Shift your pelvis back until the belt is over your ankle.
- Then bring your upper body back over your heels.
Take time to notice how this posture feels different. Many of my clients say that they feel as if they’re about to fall backwards. This is because their brain has adapted to a different positioning setting over the years.
With awareness, and continuous adjustment, your body will change in the same way it adapted to getting there in the first place. I encourage you to keep doing the exercise with the belt, or a phone charger, to keep you on track. The more you do the exercise the more you’ll be aware of your posture even when you’re out and about doing your usual daily activities.
Your feet – and your entire body – will thank you for it!