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Staying Active

Feet – the foundation of movement

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Our feet are something that are very easy to take for granted as we use them daily and don’t even really think about it. Often it’s only when something goes wrong with our feet that we pay any real attention to them. This is doing our feet a disservice for they truly are the basis of movement.

Keeping our feet strong and in good health is important to ensure that we are able to move properly – they not only allow us to move forward but they keep us up right in the first place. Without our feet it would be very difficult to remain stable.

Ensuring that our feet are in the best possible condition is the basis for ensuring a solid foundation for our whole body and all of our movement.

It’s all about forward momentum

Walking is one of the most basic of all human movements. When a baby takes its first steps we all celebrate in acknowledgement but once it’s been done it’s generally then forgotten about. No one celebrates the steps that come later as once we’re up and moving, it’s almost a given that, unless something goes wrong, we will remain that way. These important first steps are the ones that are celebrated as they are when our journey through life truly begins. It’s the time when we learn a complex set of movements that enable us to get from point A to point B.

Once we have mastered the basics we can learn running, jumping and more, but walking is what sets the daily process of forward movement in motion. We use our feet every single day of their lives – even if we consider ourselves to lead fairly static lifestyles and rarely take part in any intentional movement workouts, we still walk to visit the bathroom, to go to the kitchen and get food or simply to move from one place to the other.

What about balance?

Walking is about more than just movement. It’s just as much – if not more so – about balance. In fact, 80% of walking involves simply standing on just one foot, over and over again. Studies have shown however, that our balance is getting worse with dangerous falls becoming more commonplace across all age groups.1 One of the reasons for this could be that we are increasingly leading sedentary lifestyles where lack of movement is more commonplace and we therefore have less opportunities to practise balancing on a daily basis. Fortunately though, there are things we can all do to improve our balance and reduce the risk of falling or injury and there are some simple balance exercises that can be done by all age groups:2

Sideways walking – stand with your feet together and step sideways in a slow and controlled manner before moving the other foot to join.

Heel-to-toe walking – stand upright and place your right heel on the floor directly in front of your left toe. Then do the same with your left heel, being sure to look forward while you do so.

One leg stand- facing a wall for stability, stretch your arms in front of you with your fingertips touching the wall. Lift one leg up, keeping your hips level and slightly bending the opposite leg as you do so. Hold the position for a few seconds then place your foot gently back on the floor. Switch legs and repeat.

Strong feet can limit pain elsewhere

Many of our bodily systems are connected. Often if you feel pain in your hips, neck, back or knees for example, it could be related to a problem stemming from your feet. Mobilising your feet could reduce the pain you are experiencing elsewhere. Research has found, for example, that foot pain can be associated with bilateral and same side knee pain and releasing tension or tightness in your planter fascia (the heel of your foot) can help to reduce symptoms further up in your knee.3

It’s important to remember that all of our body systems are connected but to understand them better it can be helpful to break things down into individual parts. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but it’s also good to keep an eye on the bigger picture – by ensuring you have healthy feet you can experience better balance, walk more effectively and feel less pain in your hips, knees and back. This allows you to move more freely and enjoy more effective movement workouts. Your feet really are your foundation.

  1. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24833030-800-bad-balance-why-dangerous-falls-are-on-the-rise-around-the-world/ []
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/balance-exercises/ []
  3. https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_foot-pain-hip-and-knee.asp []