High Arches, Flat Feet, the Quest for Pain Free Movement.
Let’s Talk About Feet
Have you ever thought about how your feet may be affecting your running, cycling, lifting-your everyday life? Nor did I. Not until I was really in pain and it was getting in the way of my everyday activities.
As a runner, cyclist, crossfitter and dental hygienist, I spend a lot of time on my feet. When my hips started to give me pain and I couldn’t find relief through proper warm up, cool down and stretches, it started to raise questions for me. In a quest for pain free movement, I started to research what other areas of my body may be inhibiting my performance. What I learned was it starts from the bottom up, my feet.
Here are a few facts about our feet:
1) 25% of the bones in our body are located in our feet. That is 26 bones!
2) The average human will take anywhere from 5 to 7 thousand steps a day and over 80 thousand in a lifetime. This is NOT including athletes or distant runner.
3) The food has over 200,000 nerve endings.
Plantar Fascia is a flat band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports your arch. Weakness, tightness, irritation and inflammation of this band of tissue leads to Plantar Fasciitis. Commonly diagnosed and experienced by runners, but can affect all athletes.
The questions you all must be asking is, “How do we all get here?”. “How do we lose the strength in our feet that over time we all end up having some form of foot pain?”. “And how do we address it?”
Under healthy circumstances, your plantar fascia acts like a shock absorber, protecting your foot. Overtime with the help of ill fitting shoes, primarily shoes without support to the arches, inflammation resulting in weakness from overuse will occur. Shoes with poor arch support, along with a major lack of barefoot training and walking, takes away the foots sensory and protection mechanisms. This system allows the brain to protect the foot as well as the rest of the body. The sensory information delivered from the foots nerves ending helps the brain create a responses system that allows for better movements, better performance, in summary overall general health. With the lack of proper information from the foot, the brain makes clumsy and inefficient choices on how to navigate through everyday life and sport.
After learning about this I was left stumped but very excited for the possible solutions to my problem. I started with a run diagnosis done at a local run shop, in addition to having my foot scanned while barefoot. I was put on a treadmill with a “neutral” sneaker, so that we could record my gait and foot strike most accurately. I learned in addition to having flat feet, I have excessive pronation or over pronation (rolling of my subtalar joint inward). This has been a major contributor to the misalignment and pain in my hips.
With all this new information, it was time to research and apply treatment. I’ve found and incorporated a few different exercises, including mobility exercises for my ankles to help release my calf muscles-allowing for better ankle movement. Starting with a flexed foot stretch to get into my calf muscle, as well as knee to wall stretch to allow for better mobility.
As part of my warm ups, when I workout I practice single leg balance (10-15 reps per leg for 2 or 3 sets), and what I like to call tic-tac-toe hops barefoot to help build stability, strength and proprioception.
RomWod (www.romwod.com) is an online platform geared to the Crossfit community, but don’t let that scare you. With the large amount of wrist, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle movement used to preform a lot of our lifts, explosive movements (similar to runners) these guided stretches gets into all the nook and crannies. Opening up spaces of your body you had no idea where tight.
HighHealer is launching on Kickstarter August 14th, 2018. The ease that is created by using HighHealer is most in it’s ability get a lot done in a short period of time. Orthopedic surgeon and inventor Stephen Bui explains, four key areas which the HighHealer focuses on:
- A roller that can be frozen before being used for cold therapy to decrease foot inflammation.
- Stretch and massage the Plantar Fascia ligament
- Strengthen the smaller muscles that stabilize your feet.
- Loosen calf tightness.
In conclusion, I have found a vast amount of gains, not just lean muscle definition but gains in my overall relationship to movement, sport and foot health. If you’ve made it this far, I strongly suggest you take a little time to investigate the aches and pains, in your foot, knees and all the way up to your hips. A little preventive care can significantly extend your lifetime in movement.