Feet like hands

Beautiful to see how this woman adapted her life to using feet instead of hands. But at the same time it might make you wonder; what happened to my feet? Feet are in many ways designed similar to hands. They consist of 33 joints and permit a great precision of movement. Feet hold a huge amount of receptors which make them essential for proprioception. Just like hands... Unfortunately, we often don't use and therefore lose this great capacity. And I see every day how important that is in postural and movement. How does this happen? There is no way around it that shoes have a big influence.

Wearing shoes is like wearing a cast. Wearing shoes with hard soles, we can't feel the ground and don't get to use our feet's proprioceptive qualities. In my practice I see how difficult it is for most people to feel where the weight falls on their feet. Gaining back this awareness is important because you can't find an efficient way of moving if you don't feel your feet. Besides the hard soles, most shoes have elevated heels. This brings us in a constant position of being downhill. Bodies are amazing in adapting and wearing shoes with heels will make the body adapt to..... being downhill. This starts with the feet but the compensations go up along the legs through the pelvis, all the way to the head and often lead to problems somewhere along that line. Shoes also often limit the capacity of the toes to spread. When the toes are pushed together we loose the capacity to use our big toe in the push-off phase in walking. This is a crucial moment in walking because in this moment we extend the hip and can find length and ease.

So what can we do? Try taking off your shoes as much as possible. Going for a barefoot walk in the grass can be a great stress reliever and can reset the sensory nature of your feet. Bring your awareness to your feet. Feel where your weight falls and what information you get. How does the surface feel? Remind yourself of the feeling of walking on warm sand next to the beach and see if this changes. Obviously we don't all live lives where we can constantly be barefoot but we can be mindful about what shoes to wear. Do they have soft soles? Are they flat? Can your toes move freely? I am by no means saying you have to stop wearing fashionable high heeled shoes. Just realize what happens to your feet when you make this compromise and make sure you alternate as much as possible with good or no shoes.