24 Feb 33 Joints – Feet are Designed to Move!
Many of our clients, who come to us in pain, have been told they will need to wear arch supports for the rest of their lives. Is this you? Do you feel comfortable relying on artificial props (orthotics) to support your body when there is a natural solution?
In fact, our feet are sensitive, complex and beautifully designed structures that play an enormous role in the function of our entire body – when they’re allowed to. Each foot has 33 joints – that’s a lot of joints for such a small area! And what are joints for? Movement. Our feet are designed to move.
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the largely fashion-lead footwear industry has destroyed our natural foot function with the development of shoes that restrict this movement. Ridged soles, heel lifts, narrow toe boxes and arch supports have squashed our feet into unnatural shapes and the desire to ‘look good’ has overridden the importance of healthy foot function.
Running trainers are fitted based on how much movement is visible in the arch with the sole purpose of stopping that movement. Orthotics are handed out to many struggling with pain – even kids! Bracing our arches has become the norm.
Originally, orthotics were used for polio sufferers and soldiers with traumatic injuries and amputations that needed artificial support. However, nowadays, most people who wear arch supports, do not fall into these categories and, in the long term, they are doing most of us more harm than good.
Nowadays it is common thought that having high arches is vital to maintain postural alignment and avoid injury, whilst flat feet are deemed problematic and to blame for your knee and back pain.
But, this is simply not true!
Foot shapes vary – it is not the height of the arch that is important but the ability to control its movement. As we walk or run, our arches flatten and lift with each step – a crucial phase of the gait cycle and one that is removed when using arch supports.
This flattening movement, called pronation, not only primes our bodies for forward propulsion but also absorbs shock. When we restrict pronation with ridged supports, our bodies have to adapt and take the impact elsewhere – namely our knees, hips and backs.
Instead of preventing our natural movement, we need to work to optimize it. Our muscular systems are beautifully designed, and when reminded how, provide the highest quality support and shock absorption on the market. Not even the ‘latest technology’ comes close! Yes, in some extreme cases artificial braces may be necessary as temporary aids, but the aim of any treatment programme should be to re-establish the body’s own ability to support and move itself safely.
Regular Foundation Training practice, together with a transition to barefoot shoes, is the perfect combination to retrain your feet to function as they are designed to. By building strength, and promoting controlled movement of those 33 joints, we reconnect our feet to the rest of the body and not only relieve foot pain but knee, hip and back pain too!