Unfortunately for us, once we're about a year old we've already been fitted with boxes that fit around our feet. As we get older the shoes get harder, and our feet gradually become weaker. Common thought is that we need "arch support," a section of shoe that fits snugly against every curve of the inner arch of our foot. However, the arch of our foot is meant to act as a spring, easily moving in and out of pronation (arch against the ground) and supination (arch up off the ground).
We also have a muscle that runs from our large toes up into our lower leg that acts as a super-propeller, called the flexor hallucis longus (FHL). As we move through life with shoes that restrict our foot mobility, all of the muscles start to lose their strength, which compromises the structure of our feet. The longer we walk around with a weakened foot structure, the more they start to ache, we get flat feet and plantar fasciitis, and bunions begin to form.
This weakened structure causes ripples through our whole body, resulting in all kinds of misalignments that can lead to knee, hip, back, and even shoulder pain. Our body is not made up of many different parts the way it is often talked about, and is in fact one whole system. Of course, the point of wearing shoes is for protection, utility, and, let's not forget, fashion. But with the continued rise of foot surgeries, orthotics, and pain medication, we have to look at ourselves as the whole kinetic chain to get to the root cause of all these imbalances.
Here are four things you can do to reclaim your feet: