Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Love your feet

(Published in Enrich magazine)

LOVE YOUR FEET, please.  And prove that love by treating your feet with a lot more respect.

Think about it. How far can you go without your feet? The answer: nowhere. And how far can you get with an injured foot? Not very far.

Feet are the underdogs of our anatomy. They’re so far down south, however, that we sometimes even forget they’re even there. We take them for granted.

We wear tight or ill-fitting footwear that injure our feet. Few of us even bother to soap in between our toes when we bathe. We let calluses go untreated. And any foot pain we experience we hope will go away the next morning.

About the only time we remember how vital our feet are to our daily functioning as human beings is when something goes wrong with them.

Like when you lose them in an accident. Or an injury prevents you from walking.

Next to losing your eyesight, losing your feet is probably the worst thing that can happen to you.

Our feet will have traveled tens of thousands of kilometers in our lifetime. One estimate said the average adult will have walked the equivalent of four times around the world before he dies.

Since the circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 kilometers at the Equator, that means you’ll have walked some 160,000 kilometers! And your feet will still be there when you take that last step before exiting this life.

Home feet and business feet
You can start on the road to treating your feet better by remembering your feet have two “homes.”  Your feet’s first and most important home is your home or the place where you live.  Call this your “home feet.” Its second home is the place where you work or study. Call this your “business feet.”

Why the distinction? That’s because you have to treat your home feet and business feet differently.

Home is the best place to prove your love for your feet. That’s because you can walk barefoot at home and podiatrists, or foot doctors, agree that walking barefoot is the best way to treat your feet.

Walking barefoot is the natural gait for human beings. A study made five years ago in South Africa that compared feet from three different population groups concluded that “. . . prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet.”

The study said the shoe shod Europeans had the unhealthiest feet while the Zulus, one of South Africa’s largest indigenous tribes, had the healthiest because they walked barefoot most of the time.

An American podiatrist wrote that “Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person.” He’s right and you’ve got the painful experience to prove it.

Mind you, I’m not encouraging you to walk barefooted outside your home or to your office. The reason I made the distinction between home feet and business feet is to encourage you to walk barefooted inside your own home.

Walking barefoot is natural and healthy. You should walk barefoot at home to remind your body that it should rely on the natural architecture of the feet. Walking barefoot allows freedom of movement in your feet ankles, legs and helps improve posture.

Start walking barefoot at home. Ditch the injury-prone flip flops and slippery slippers. Give your home feet a chance to be comfortable.

Having your feet touch the floor gives you a marvelous feeling of control and a natural ease of movement. Most important, it feels and it is natural.

There’s an added bonus to deciding to walk barefoot at home. You’ll be forced to clean your floors regularly and that’s good for your family.

Keep those dirty shoes and muddy slippers outside your home. Inside, make your home a clean haven for your home feet.

Business feet
Your home feet enters an alien world every time you take them outside your home. This more stressful environment requires your feet be protected.  Shoes are the logical “armor” that protect your home feet from the dangers of the outside world.

Trouble is that a lot of shoes on the market, especially formal footwear such as business shoes, seem as hard or as heavy as steel armor. That’s a problem for your business feet, which can be choked inside shoes up to 12 hours a day.

Although really useful, shoes are the enemy of healthy posture and movement. Shoes stunt the free movement of the feet and the entire leg. They change the way we walk, and lead to physical stress and strain throughout the body. Your business feet suffer if you wear the wrong shoes.

Shoes also impede the graceful form of walking and the effortless ease of movement of the body that comes with walking barefoot. To put it bluntly, feet are good and shoes, bad.

But we can’t live without shoes, especially in this country that’s either too hot or too wet. We need shoes once we exit our home and go to work or school or to travel.

We can compromise, however. Here are a few tips on how to be kinder to your business feet.

Always, always buy a pair of shoes for comfort and not fashion. That means preferring low heeled shoes to high heels and shoes with a large toe box to pointed shoes that will kill your feet. Foot health experts prefer shoes with shoelaces instead of slip-ons since you can adjust the laces to improve foot comfort.

It’s a tough choice, especially for the ladies, but would you rather walk in pain and look good or walk in comfort and look so-so?

When buying a new pair of shoes it would be wise to consider buying a pair with
“breathable uppers.” Uppers are the part of a shoe that covers the top of the foot, the toes, the sides of the foot and the back of the heel

Breathable uppers can be different types of leathers or synthetic mesh. The key thing to pay attention to is whether or not the upper's material allows moisture to escape and air to enter to keep feet dry.

Look for an “arch support” inside your pair of shoes. A proper arch support minimizes pain while walking by correctly realigning the lower limbs. It helps distribute weight and removes pressure from the heel and forefoot.

Badly made shoes with no arch support can strain your feet and put unnecessary pressure on joints and muscles in the lower limbs.

Shoes with padded collars are to be preferred. A padded collar helps minimize ankle pain.

A cushioned or soft “tongue” can prevent discomfort caused by pressure of tied shoelaces. It also pushes the heel back to provide a better fit.

A wide “toe box” or the front part of the shoe gives toes more wiggle room. It also adds comfort and reduces some foot problems such as corns and calluses.

Shoes that fit properly and support your feet can prevent sore feet and alleviate many common foot problems. They’re the only healthy alternative to walking barefoot.

You’ve got to be kinder to your feet because you won’t get anywhere in life without them.