Did you know that 25%
of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle? And yet our feet tend to
be one of the most overlooked parts of our body, at least as far as proactive
care goes. No one thinks about their feet until there’s a problem.
Due to the volume of
joints and muscles in the feet, stiffness in this area of the body is one of
the biggest contributors to balance problems. Your feet play a major role in
systems that keep you balanced. The more rigid your feet, the
it is to balance.
One of the best
places you can start to improve your balance is to improve the mobility of your
feet. The more impact from the environment your feet absorb, the less work the
rest of your body has to do to keep you balanced.
The first step to better foot mobility is to consider how you treat your feet daily. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving?
Do you have foot
pain? Are there calluses, and if so, where? All of these questions can start to
give you clues about how your feet move.
Maintaining healthy, happy feet for better balance is easy to do with just a few simple tools you already have in your home, and a few minutes per day.
Follow the steps
below to return the suppleness to your feet for a quick impact on your balance:
Stop Wearing Heels, Rigid Shoes, or Shoes with a Pointy Toe
Shoes that tighten
your calves, don’t allow the bones of your feet to move,
or cram all the toes together are a recipe for future foot and balance issues.
Spend most of your time in shoes that are flat, flexible, and have a wide toe
box to allow
your feet to experience a range of natural movement.
Spend More Time at Home Barefoot
Shoes act as a cast
to your feet, immobilizing them and preventing the muscles of the foot from
working on their own.
Allowing yourself to
walk barefoot, even for short amounts of time, provides the muscles of your
feet an opportunity to strengthen. If you tend to wear shoes at home, start
this process gradually to allow your feet to adapt.
Practice Spreading Your Toes Apart and Lifting Them Individually
You might be
surprised to hear your feet should have the same dexterity as your hands! You
heard that right. Shoes have done to our feet what a lifetime of wearing
mittens would do to your hands.
Start to wake the
muscles of the feet up and improve your dexterity by practicing your toe
mobility. The muscles that control the toes also strengthen the arch of the
foot, so this is important to focus on if you’ve been told you are
“flat-footed” or have a collapsed arch.
Walk on a Variety of Surfaces and Textures
Walking over stones,
grass, or on tile floor are all different experiences for the joints and
muscles of your feet. Walking uphill, downhill, or over flat surfaces are all
different experiences as well. Expose your feet to as many different
experiences as possible, with or without shoes to allow for maximal
It’s helpful to
practice walking on different textures in conjunction with spreading and
lifting your toes. Gaining mobility is a process that not just improves your
flexibility, but also strengthens your control of it.
Taking these smalls
steps to improve the health of your feet impacts your overall health in a
positive way. After all, you need a healthy foundation to build healthy