Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Critique of "9 Habits That Can Do More Harm Than Good": The Activity Of The Feet

I was checking my mail on Yahoo this morning and this article appeared: "9 Habits That Can Do More Harm Than Good."

While I agree with most of these, there are two that I had a really hard time with.

#3: Wearing Flip-Flops. (I will copy and paste here.)
"Forgoing sky-high heels and toe-pinching boots for the freedom of flip-flops is giving your feet a much-need break, right? Not exactly. Turns out, your summer shoes aren’t doing you any favors. According to Jordana Szpiro, DPM, a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Boston, “Flip-flops and other unsupportive sandals, which have no arch support and give no structural support to the foot, can lead to stress fractures since your uncushioned feet become strained when they try to support too much weight,” she explains. “Extensor or flexor tendinitis is also a common problem that happens as a result of trying to keep your flip-flips on—the muscles on top or underneath your feet overexert themselves while trying to grip your shoes.” She also advises against walking around shoeless, even if you’re by the pool or in your gym’s locker room. “Aside from not giving your feet any support, going barefoot can also be challenging for those prone to infectious skin diseases such as plantar warts and athlete’s foot, which are easily spread poolside, in pedicure salons and in gyms.” But that doesn't mean you need to spend your summer in closed toe shoes. Dr. Szpiro recommends comfortable sandals that also provide plenty of support, like styles from Fit FlopsOrthoHeel and Mephisto."

There is much talk about orthopedics and supportive shoes. I understand the merit of that to a certain extent, because your feet are your foundation and absolutely no doubt about it what is going on with your feet affects your ankles which affects your knees which affects your hips which effects your pelvis which affects your spine from your lower back all the way up through your neck. And if you have flat feet and tend to over-pronate (collapse to the inner arches) or your have high arches and tend to excessively supinate (roll to the outer edges), this is going to lead to weakness and instability and tension in the foot, and eventually, other parts of the body as well.

However, here is this podiatrist suggesting that we do not walk around in shoes with no arch support nor walk around barefoot. Does this seem natural to anybody? To commit your feet to a life in stiff, thick-soled "supportive" shoes. This is healthy? I wonder, what exactly do you suppose happened before shoes?

There was a time, believe it or not, where humans roamed the earth barefoot and there still are many tribal communities and villages and select eccentric people in every-day society who choose to remain barefoot as often as they can. Our feet were designed in such a divine way to to be able to accommodate quite a variety of terrain and surfaces, including uneven dirt paths and rocky roads. Binding your feet in shoes limits the flexibility and movement of the foot and from what I've observed, can lead to tension in the feet and surrounding areas as much as, if not more than, being barefoot.

As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I do not spend much time in shoes. Nor do I have any desire to. Whenever someone suggests orthopedics to me for my flat feet, I tell them there's no point. I am so seldom in shoes that why exactly would I want my feet to grow accustomed to the support to only then be in worse shape when I am not wearing shoes with support or orthopedics? I tell them, I do not want cushioning on the beds of my shoes to do the work that my feet, legs, and pelvis should be doing muscularly themselves. Instead of wearing orthopedics, I prefer to work my feet by first, lifting the toes (dorsi-flexing the foot very strong) to find the arch in my foot that seems to be missing and connect to the ball of the foot; then set the toes back down, spread wide without gripping the floor, keeping the arches lifted; then grounding very strong into the outer edges of the feet (because I tend to roll to the inner edges), as though someone were holding my feet in place but I am trying to pull them apart. So, in short, to find the balance between grounding into the ball and the heel of the foot equally, and to pronate and supinate equally. Try it. You will feel all over the muscles in your legs and even up into your pelvis come alive. This is the work that our bodies ought to be doing, not collapsing into a pair of soft enabling to only be weakened by.

If you are not sure whether you have high or low arches and whether you tend to roll to the inner edges (pronation) or outer edges (supination) of your feet, take a look at the soles of your shoes. You will likely find that there is more wear on either the inner or outer edges. You want to focus on doing the opposite from whatever your tendency is. If you are doing it correctly, you will feel the muscles of your legs work in a different kind of way than you may be used to. I am under the impression that this kind of work can relieve stress and tension than you may have in all areas of your body, from your toes all the way up to to your head, because it is all connected.

There is a second suggestion in this article that I have a complaint about. I will write on that one later.

No comments:

Post a Comment