It’s All in the Foot
Feet have a crucial part to play in walking, running, posture and everyday dealing with gravity. Many theories are linked to the influence that feet may have on higher body parts. Clearly, a significant distortion due to foot and ankle deformity may have an effect on the knees, pelvic-girdle, spine and the whole biomechanical chain up to the torso and head.
We are born with bare feet and spend the first months of life wearing no shoes, since we cannot walk yet. In modern society, shoes are introduced into use very early in life. The reasons for this vary between the need to protect feet from sharp objects, infection, heat or cold, fashions and habits. Conventions may thus influence footwear. They greatly vary between different societies; for instance, American Indians walk barefoot. In China, young girls’ feet were once put in a hard cast splint to prevent their growth. This is for aesthetic reasons according to Chinese perception of beauty. The industrial and consumer society we live in dictates some form of footwear for everyone. No one is exempt from shoes, other than at the beach or in some sports activities. Is this good for our health and our feet?
It would appear that the answer to this question is “not really”.
Imagine a situation whereby we are all forced to wear gloves from early childhood. This may cause an underdevelopment of the touch sense and an unwanted barrier to normal human touch. It may result in restricted manual control of our environment and degeneration of our natural tactile skills. Do we wish to forsake this? Does this sound unreasonable? Wrapping one’s foot in socks and shoes most of the time is equally unreasonable.
The footwear habit we have adopted creates a whole spectrum of foot and ankle trouble.
- Shortfall and delay in development of the plantar muscle layers.
Our underfoot is equipped with a sophisticated natural system consisting of four small-muscle layers that are connected to the bony structure. These need a mechanical stimulus fed from contact with the ground we walk on and dealing with angled uneven surfaces, lumps, stones and lumps. Challenging our feet with different surfaces, consistency and temperature is important for the healthy development of our support system. All this is partly hidden and obliterated by socks and shoes.
- Preventing natural stimulus may cause deficient development of the natural foot arches and phenomena such as “flat foot”, high arch or inward sinking of the arch (foot pronation).
- Reduced feeling ability of the foot, underdeveloped sense of balance, lack of contact with air, water and natural matter essential for the normal development of an important organ in locomotion.
Whilst it is true that in conditions of extreme hot or cold, exceptionally rough surface, sharp rock and industrial environment foot protection may be considered, foot wear has become a fashion, an obligation and a must. There are trends that attempt to change this however it isn’t likely that we all are going to shed our shoes and socks and start walking bare foot. Some societies in fact behave in this manner, but modern lifestyle doesn’t allow for now a barefoot habit. The good advice that may be implemented revolves around walking barefoot on soft earth, sea sand or grass several times a week for thirty to sixty minutes. That is a good start, getting our feet used to touching the element and thicken and strengthen the under foot’s skin to enable a better response to different walking surfaces. Walking on tiles or a flat surface is obviously less effective.
Finally, we produce unknowingly a filter of dubious usefulness, detracting from the natural development of our foot mechanics. This practice impairs our ability to put normal anatomical foot structure into the use it was built for.
Chiropractic promotes a natural regard towards healthy joint movement especially in weight-bearing joints. Treating mobility and muscle-balance problems and their postural outcome are our professional concern. Feet and the expertise of treating them are studied and implemented by chiropractic.