If you don't know by now, modern shoes are not designed with your foot shape in mind. That means that most modern shoes have a really tight toe box and are compressing your toes together. This is not an ideal shape for your foot and leads to incorrect movement through your foot, which causes issues all the way up the kinetic chain.
If someone has low back problems, shoulder problems, hip problems, knee problems, and we look at the foot, we can see all sorts of issues going on that are creating these issues all the way up.
If you visualize the foot and what happens when we wear shoes with a tight toe box, you'll see the pinky toe get pushed underneath the other toes and the big toe gets pushed in so it's no longer pointing straight.
When the big toe is pushed in, the joint no longer moves correctly, and you develop big toe arthritis or bunions. When we get the big toe back in its normal position and moving correctly, foot mechanics and ankle mechanics improve, which improves movement all the way up the kinetic chain.
Here are a few simple things that you can do to start to fix the issues that you've got going on in your feet, which will in turn help address issues that you have throughout your body.
There are more companies now designing shoes around the foot shape. These are a great option, but you will likely be in situations where you are still wearing a shoe with a tight toe box.
Spend more time barefoot
Spending time barefoot might not be comfortable at first and your feet may gel sore. But, the more you spend time barefoot, the stronger the muscles in your feet will get and the better it will feel.
The second thing that you can do when you take off your shoes is throw on some toe spacers. Here are the ones we provide for our clients. Put those on in between your toes when you're spending the time barefoot, and they will help push your toes back apart and create the shape that we want.
Two things that you can do without even thinking as you go about your normal day.
Strengthen the Foot
As I mentioned earlier, you probably don't wanna spend a ton of time doing specific foot exercises, but there are easy ways to strengthen the foot with normal exercises that you're already doing in your workouts.
The same thing that applies when you're at home, applies in the gym: get your shoes off. Exercises without shoes on will help build proprioception in the foot and helps strengthen the muscles in the foot.
Build in single leg exercises and balance exercises into your routine. Instead of squats try single leg squats or split squats. Anything that you do unilaterally is going to add some kind of stability element to that exercise and make the muscles of the foot and the ankle work harder. Need more exercise ideas? Check out our Exercise Library.
You can do all of these without having to spend extra time working on your feet and still improve the mechanics of your foot. Give them a try!
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