Stop Hurting Your Knees by Doing This Weird Thing With Your Toes
What are Flat Feet?
Over-pronation of the foot is commonly known as flat feet. Flexible, flat feet are characterized by a collapsed arch. This collapsed arch can cause inflammation within the foot and pain throughout the body. People with flat feet often suffer from plantar fasciitis, hip pain, and knee pain. An association between foot pronation and knee problems was found subjects in a 2013 study described in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.
A Commonly Prescribed Exercise
Physical therapists, coaches, and fitness instructors usually recommend a certain exercise to people who have flat feet. To perform this exercise, a person must place his or her feet on the floor, then pick up his or her toes. Experts mistakenly believe that this exercise will strengthen the arch and improve gait. This movement does improve the arch, and over time it can even create a small arch in a flat foot over time.
If you have flat feet, toe lifts can create an arch in your foot. However, the best way to alleviate the discomfort caused by flat feet is not by completing toe lifts. This exercise does not treat the body as a whole and continues the unfortunate modern disconnect between the feet and the brain. Even though this exercise does work to create an arch, it neglects to move the body as a whole. Because your foot is not being trained how to use its newly developed arch, toe lift exercises can actually contribute to an unstable foot and gait. When your toes disconnect from the floor, you will overcompensate with your knees and calf muscles.
Toes as Sensors
Why is it so important that your toes keep in contact with the floor? Humans have more nerve endings in their toes and feet than in any other part of the body. Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CPT advocates for barefoot training to improve posture and muscle tone. She explains that if you allow your toes to stay on the ground when you walk, your toes act as sensors. These sensors allow the feet to communicate with the central nervous system, which in turn conveys information about direction and speed to your knee and hip joints.
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The Argument for Bare Feet
Constantly wearing shoes also causes a disconnect between your toes and the rest of your body. The muscles in your feet become weak after years stuffed in shoes and unable to feel the ground. If you spend some time every day allowing your toes to have contact with the floor or ground, you will tone your core muscles and leg muscles. As a result, your gait will become more symmetrical and balanced. Bare feet can better communicate information about our terrain to our brains. This prevents slips and falls.
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Dr. Splichal teaches that maintaining good ankle mobility creates proper alignment of the body and alleviates stress to soft tissues and joints. This also allows our body to absorb shock properly instead of placing undue pressure on our knees. She does not denounce the use of orthotics and supportive shoes for bracing, but she strongly advocates that walking barefoot resets the bond between the foot and the brain.
Why are You Doing That Weird Thing With Your Toes?
Focusing on one area of without involving the rest of your body is ineffective and does not treat the underlying problem. In this video, Kevin C. Moore from Reembody.me explains this theory in more detail and shows us the reality of toe-lifts in a hilarious, informative way. He explains and then demonstrates a standing exercise utilizing the subtalar joint at the back of the ankle. Learning to move this joint properly will strengthen flat feet and help you walk efficiently. You will learn to roll your heels while your toes still stay on the ground as they were meant to do. Kevin clearly explains that this is a better exercise for weak arches. When you have finished this video, pay attention to the way you walk. When you exercise your feet, your entire body should move as well. Enjoy the video as you laugh and learn with Kevin. You’re certain to pay more attention to the way you move when you’re done.