Day 4: Alignment Socks
Welcome back! We are on day 4 and I’m excited to talk to you about socks! Yep. Socks.
But more than just socks really. I wanted to go over “foot recovery” in general. I stated in the other posts that I don’t expect you to give up shoes altogether. I know there are trainers advocating for bare feet, “barefoot” shoes or at the very least, zero heel ALL the time. And while I actually agree from a biomechanical standpoint, I don’t expect it from my clients for two reasons.
#1 – It’s an extreme, and most people aren’t going to go for it even if they understand the basic mechanics and how good it can make their body feel.
#2 – I like fashionable, fun shoes for myself. If I personally don’t live the “barefoot” shoe lifestyle EVERY DAY, how can I with integrity tell my clients to? (When I recommend something fully; you can bet it’s because I have experience with it, I actually live with it in my lifestyle, and I fully believe it’s to your advantage).
*Just a side note for those interested in “barefoot” shoes. Please do your research and learn how to transition slowly, and strengthen your feet appropriately. Don’t just jump-in head first without proper precautions in place. I see many people out in public wearing them but still have less than optimal standing stances and movement patterns. That is a quick ticket to foot problem central. Learn how to walk well.
So! Let’s get back on track. What do I do for shoes and for my feet, and what do I recommend to you?
Here goes. If you can find a pair of shoes that you like that have zero heel- buy them. You may have to look a bit, but they are out there. They’ll make a big difference in your daily life; especially if you are on your feet all day. Those can be your go-to shoes. The ones you automatically grab day to day without thinking too hard. When occasion demands it (You know, when you have that great outfit and want the perfect shoe to go with) switch to a fun, fashion shoe.
Have a great time wearing the fun shoe, and don’t feel guilty. Just enjoy for a bit. I have a favorite pair of turquoise boots that you’ll see me out and about in. Because they have a short heel, it throws my hips forward and puts my body out of optimal alignment. I know it and I feel it as I take each step. Honestly, if they sold that same boot without a heel, I’d be the first in line to buy it. But they don’t (yet). I really love the look of that boot… 😉 So I wear them minimally instead of every day.
When I come home is when I put my “foot recovery” plan into action (whether I’m wearing zero-rise heeled shoes or fun shoes), and it’s what YOU do when you come home that is my concern for this article. I want you to be like Mr. Rogers (Love that guy!). Every time you walk into the house you are in “foot recovery” mode. Sit down, take off your shoes and socks (maybe sing a song about your neighbor) and let those little piggies out of confinement! They will love you for it. And it’s in your best interests to make them happy.
The first thing I do after removing my shoes is to head straight to my bedroom and grab my foot alignment socks. See the photo I’ve posted with this article. They aren’t the cutest things in the world, but they work wonders! We have two sets of muscles in our feet. Extrinsic muscles: these originate in the leg and move down to insert in the foot, and intrinsic muscles: which are fully contained within the foot. These intrinsic muscles are tiny and can get quite squished together by shoes and/or socks. By wearing the foot alignment socks, you are passively allowing those little muscles to stretch and move back into place.
I will often roll my feet while I’m wearing these socks, or even sit down and give them a quick little foot rub (sans the oil). These socks are incredible, and such an important tool in my toolbox. While I can’t say enough good things about how they make my feet feel now, I will say that when I first started wearing them… my feet felt, um….. tortured.
Truly. They take some getting used to. Just like you wouldn’t try slipping into full splits without warming up and stretching for a few weeks or months. You need to stretch those toes out a bit before you just jam them on and wear them for hours.
Here is your very own step by step guide. You’re welcome. 😉
- Start with only a few minutes a day (maybe 10 – 15 min.). Keep the toe separators at the top of the toes. My pinky toe was so tight in the beginning; I couldn’t even place the separator in between it for more than one minute (literally). Just pull the one (painful) separator up and away from the toes if you have that problem to start.
- After you’ve done this for two weeks (maybe more) Pull the separators half-way down your toes and wear for an hour or so.
- At some point (and this point is different for everyone, plus it depends on how often you are wearing them) you can leave them on for as long as you like or even sleep in them. *Note that these are not recommended for diabetics according to the MyHappyFeet website.
When I’m at home (and I’m not teaching barefoot in the studio) you’ll find me in these socks. In the summer it’s just the socks (or Silicone Toe separators). In the winter, our wood floors are freezing, so I’ll wear the alignment socks with my wide-footed, leather-bottomed slippers over the top.
Speaking of my slippers, let me share these wondrous beauties with you. They come in women’s, men’s, and children’s sizes and are out of Canada. They last YEARS! I kid you not. They go through the wash just fine, though I don’t put them in the dryer. Padraig slippers are the BEST! http://www.padraigcottage.com/password
I consider them to be an integral part of my “foot recovery” toolbox.
Okay, I’ve wandered through many tangents in this article. But the basics come down to:
-Wear a zero-rise heel (flat-bottomed shoe) as often as you can.
Feel free to wear fun shoes on occasion without guilt (but be sure to be kind to your feet afterward).
-Take your shoes off each time you enter your dwelling.
-Use at least one tool (or more) in your “foot recovery” toolbox every day.
These include- going barefoot, wearing alignment socks, Yoga Toes (Silicone Toe separators), Rolling feet (legs and hips too), toe exercises, foot massage and reflexology, and essential oils (Rosemary, Peppermint, and lavender make a nice combo).
Want to know where to get these socks?
Check on Amazon. They run anywhere from $2.50-$9.00. I just recently ordered the Cadillac version from www.my-happyfeet.com. Their cost was $19.95. I wanted to see if that hefty price difference was worth it so I could share with you all. Oh, the things I do for you guys. 😉 I’ll keep you posted. They did have nicer colors; I’ll give them that.
Here’s to happy feet in 2017!!
Addendum- I did get my expensive socks from happyfeet. The colors were gorgeous and the feel of the yarn was luscious. However, other than that, I didn’t seem to notice any other differences between them and the less expensive socks.