Our feet are our foundation! Think of what happens to a house when the foundation is out of alignment. Proper alignment of the foot is a powerful way to reduce the number of foot problems and help reduce stress on the knee, hips, back and even shoulders. The joint in the foot that controls supination (turning in) and pronation (turning out) is the subtalar joint. When this joint is in alignment or at least close to it, the big toe joint has a better range of motion and one is less likely to have bunions, hammertoes, neuroma, etc… as well as proximal joint problems. When you see your arch “fall” or “collapse” that’s when we pronate and become out of alignment. The opposite is less likely and is usually hereditary. So how do we keep this joint where we want it? Well, one way (an all-natural way) is to strengthen the foot. When we strengthen the musculature in the foot we can get great improvement and relief in the foot and all the way up the body! The practice of YOGA does a great job of this. Don’t get nervous my father started yoga at 76! The benefits of yoga stretch further than the physical. Our emotional state of being benefits by slowing down our sympathetic nervous system and decreasing anxious feelings. t’s an overall win for the mind, body, and spirit.
Strengthening exercises such as toe raises can also benefit us and walking on the beach without shoes not only strengthens our feet but delivers earthing benefits. See my earthing page for more details on how the earth itself is a natural healer.
So, what about when we are at work and need to spend hours in our shoes? The answer is usually a great pair of arch supports. Custom orthotics, when done correctly, will hold your foot in “subtalar joint neutral” making it the ideal way to go. However, there are over the counter brands that are very good. One brand being SPENCO. You do not want arch support that you can easily flatten with the palm of your hand. Imagine what will happen when all of your weight is on it. Also, if you are severely flatfooted you will need to compromise and go with slightly less rigid support that your foot can tolerate.