Welcome back to my Foot Love Series!
Day Two: Foot Alignment
The way we walk and the direction our feet point when we do so, is not something most think about too often. They just do it. But not noticing can be causing you a problem.
Think of yourself as a car. The vehicle goes in the direction of the wheels, right? Of course, that’s natural. And if you’ve ever had misaligned wheels you’ll remember that you could feel things were off and it was annoying. However, if for some reason you couldn’t get in to have them re-aligned (who’s got time for that, lol), at some point that “misaligned” feeling would go away and it would seem normal. Right? You’d just get used to it. Anyone been there?
Let’s take the scenario further. When you eventually brought the car in to to have it serviced you probably had the mechanic give you an earful. Because long term driving on misaligned wheels causes wear and tear on the tires.
Remember- the tires in our story are your feet and they work the same way.
We can create the same wear and tear if we aren’t conscious of our everyday movement.
When we walk with our feet straight ahead, we move smoothly from heel to toes. When we walk with a “turned-out” ballet (or “duck walk”) stride it throws everything off. It’s not a smooth back to front move. It’s more of a back, side, side, kind of front move… It takes more energy from us and it causes more wear and tear on those bones, muscles and tendons. It also can cause deformities of the toes. Can you say bunions, anyone?
Note the photo. This shows the two different ways of moving forward. One goes straight ahead and the other is a turned-out walk. Notice that they both start at the ankle but you can see how different the weight is distributed over them. Your feet take the full weight of your body with every step.
When you walk turned out, the weight is distributed not over the entire foot, but instead over your big toe. It’s not meant to hold that kind of load. Your brain and body are always paying attention to the info you give it. It wants to be of help to you. It really does! So it will happily change things in your body, including growing bone and tissue (where there wasn’t any before) or moving things around. When you put that immense pressure over the big toe every day with every step. Your body will adapt for you. Might I use this word again? Bunions… (plus other foot issues)
While it’s nice that your body wants to help, it can be far less than actually helpful. It’s up to us individually to re-train our feet to work in a more optimal way. It’s in your best interest, though I know it’s hard to think of adding anything else to a busy life.
I’m thoroughly convinced that the hairline fracture in my left foot a year and a half ago was caused by my poor alignment (which I’ve worked hard on since then). When I got lazy again recently my other issue came about. I can’t get lazy again. Lesson learned.
Take note of how you walk and stand today. You might be surprised.
Here’s to happy feet!