Summer is here and our activity level generally increases with the warmer weather and longer days, so does wearing flip-flops. In fact, June 16th is National Flip Flop Day! Growing up I never wore flip-flops. They were not the fashion trend that they are today. I feel grateful for that, knowing now how damaging they are to your feet and subsequently your whole alignment. I am not saying I never wear flip-flops, but I now limit the amount of time I spend wearing them. Slave to fashion, or pain free living, this is the question. Thankfully, there are many shoemakers today who combine comfort with style.
I am going to assume we all want to live pain-free, age with ease and stay active. So, it is imperative that we give our feet some love, actually LOTS of love!! Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and advocate for minimal footwear, shares why this is important in her book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. She says, years of gripping to keep a flip-flop or slide-on shoe attached to your foot creates bent, fused toe joints. Shoes that crowd your toes or have any heel height will create foot pain and eventually knee, hip and back pain.
Our feet are extremely dexterous, they help us navigate terrain. When we step on a surface, whether smooth or bumpy, it creates a neurological image in the system of our body that maintains an awareness of our position. The sole of your foot is a sensory organ. The contact between your foot and the ground gives you input about your environment for the purpose of eliciting a response from your body. The correct response is one that allows you to stay upright and maintain correct alignment throughout the body. Guess how the signals travel from the foot to the rest of the body? YES, the connective tissue is the vehicle by which signals travel and only a well-hydrated connective tissue system provides the body with accurate communication about how to navigate the terrain you are walking on. When the connective tissue in our feet is sticky and dry this interferes with the communication between the body and brain giving it inaccurate information about the environment. In turn, this can create postural misalignment. The root cause of our knee, hip and back pain is often due to wearing improper footwear.
You might be thinking, “but I love my cute, strappy sandals and I’m not ready to wear sensible, ‘old-lady’ shoes.” I hear you! If you do some simple foot exercises daily and MELT your feet at least 4 times a week, you can offset the damage done to your feet. I challenge you to commit to doing the foot exercises and Melting your feet every day for one week and decide for yourself how useful these exercises are. While you sit at the computer reach one foot behind you and stretch the top of your foot. While you talk on the phone or text, step on a towel or roller and stretch your calves. It only takes 2 minutes!
Aging is a natural process, but I know with absolute certainty that we can choose HOW we age. It is a choice we get to make each day. Small changes add up to big results!!