A guest post from Jesse James Retherford of www.TAO-Fit.com
Feet. Do we need them?
There are 26 bones in the human foot, 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, and roughly the same number of sensory nerves that you have on the palms of your hands. By the way, that’s the same amount of nerves as the inside of your mouth, and coincidentally, your genitals.
It should be pretty obvious that the foot is designed to be incredibly dynamic. It is fundamentally sensitive and responsive.
The foot is capable of an extremely wide range of functional movement and sensory feeling. It offers the possibility of stability in almost any context.
Your feet are your first and primary connection to the earth. It is no wonder that they are the foundation of your entire postural system, and of your spiritual and emotional health. Every joint and muscle in your body has a stake in how well your feet do their job.
When you change your foot, you affect what rests upon them. When you alter the position, mobility, stabilization, and sensory feedback of your foot, you directly disturb its natural relationship with your knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck, and head. Shoes change your feet and body.
Have you ever considered what you’re asking of your foot when you place a thick, supportive shoe on it? Have you thought about what you’re doing when you brace and restrict the natural movement and feeling of this very complex structural mechanism?
When you wear shoes you are essentially bracing and restricting the natural movement of not only your foot, but of your entire body. Make this a habit and before too long, you lose the very ability to perform the dynamic movements you were designed for. And since the movement of the foot directly affects every other joint in the body, poor shoe selection ultimately leads to significant postural dysfunction.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent decades with a poor selection of shoes. Years and years in shoes. A countless number of steps and miles in them. Walking, running, sitting, standing, jumping, squatting, lounging, and lunging etc., all in shoes.
On some level, you may already have noticed that there is a connection between your shoes and the tightness, soreness, or pain you have in your knees, hips, back, shoulders, or neck.
Natural foot movement and dexterity are hugely important for long term pain free health and vitality! If you don’t have healthy foot movement, you will have pain. I consider foot mobility and dexterity, or the lack of it, to be two of the primary indicators of long term chronic pain and injury in the majority of my clients.
Not interested in long term chronic pain? Do this.
If you’ve spent your entire life in shoes and what I’m writing about freaks you out, hold on a sec.
The body is so amazing at adapting. Much, if not all, of what you’ve lost in terms of functional movement can be regained.
However, if you truly do want to adapt, it will take a fundamental shift in how you move your entire body. And it all starts with your feet.
The shift can be so profound that it will also create a shift in your lifestyle and ultimately your life as a whole. This will affect you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Where does this journey begin?
Chuck your shoes and go barefoot!
Barefoot is by far one of the best options for maintaining foot mobility, stability, and a healthy connection to the earth. (Click to tweet!)
Unfortunately for most, going 100% barefoot is just not an option. Extreme heat, cold, local business policies, other unforgiving conditions, or even personal desire may prevent you from completely baring your soles. There are times that you must wear shoes to protect your feet, maintain employment, or buy groceries.
Shoes have a practical place and purpose in our society and culture. They are far from useless. So if you can’t go barefoot, what is the next best option? What kind of shoes?
If you’re going to wear shoes, don’t just wear any shoe. To regain natural foot movement, you need a shoe that interferes as little as possible with your feet. You want a shoe that allows for maximum mobility, stability of the foot, and is thin enough that you can feel the subtle textures of the ground with each step. Basically, you want a shoe which allows your foot to be a foot.
And let’s not forget, you also want a shoe that looks nice, to boot! (Pun intended.)
What about LUNA Sandals?
I love LUNA Sandals. They have become my favorite shoe. Especially in the summer time.
I love LUNA Sandals because they are the closest I can come to being barefoot without actually being barefoot.
The sole is thin and extremely flexible allowing my foot to move while providing enough protection from the scorching summer pavement. The lacing system naturally keeps the shoe on my foot, unlike flip flops (a very poor choice if you’re interested in healthy footwear).
What I love most about them is the simple fact that they are a sandal and don’t cover my foot. In the summer, my feet get hot. But not in my LUNA Sandals.
And by the way, they look great too.
I own several different pairs of minimalist shoes. I use them as tools and I have a different tool for each situation. And the funny thing about it? Since I made the switch to predominantly barefoot over the past several years, I now own more shoes than ever before!
I want to say a big thanks to LUNA Sandals. From the very day they came out of the package my other shoes have seen very little action. I wear my LUNAs everywhere, and for everything. They’re with me when I’m mountain biking, running, working, working out, boating, for social engagements, and of course… grocery shopping.
Jesse James Retherford is a coach and therapist in Austin, TX. He helps his clients heal from the dysfunction of chronic pain and injury; recover and rebuild pain free posture and function; and propels them into the best condition of their lives so they can thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in all aspects of their career and life. Find out more and sign up for his blog over at www.TAO-Fit.com