SFH #36: First Your Feet

A story about foot health 🦶🏽

My uphill battle for physiological health throughout my life has been my feet and hips. It hit me at 28 how much I did not understand the power of solid and mobile feet.

I woke up on Sunday morning after my cousin Julie's wedding with a swollen and bruised right foot and ankle. I had no idea what happened, and I did not recall hurting it. I was dancing and having a good time throughout the evening. It turned out that my foot and ankle were finally waving the white flag for the beating I was giving it. I was training for my second Ironman in Couer D'Alene. I had just completed a century ride the day before, and then I danced the night away.

What was happening to my foot and ankle was a build-up over at least a decade. After years of team sports, ankle rolls, and a new affinity to run long distances, I accumulated stubborn patterns in my movement (or lack of) and my soft tissue as a result. I had spurs from my ankle bones from wear and tear. The shrapnel had floated around over time and got into joint spaces and started to cause problems for me (this was when my ankle swelled up to protect itself). I got my ankle scoped a few weeks after that Ironman. I finished with a big smile on my face after walking the entirety of the marathon—a tremendous gift in my journey. One of the lessons I took home was how to reframe to a healthier relationship with my feet.

I started a feet-first approach. I don't mean feet are the first focus for your physiological health. I mean, consider your feet first when thinking about your physiological movements as a bipedal being. It's a ground-up approach. We need our feet. They are profoundly complex and offer us a great opportunity if we respect them.1

Here's what I took away and how I healthily interact with my feet 14 years following my wake-up call. ☎️ 

  1. Embrace your feet. Get your shoes and socks off in nature. Get your feet interacting with natural settings as much as possible. Sand. Grass. Water. You can walk, dance, swim, and generally play barefoot to give your precious ones more freedom. The benefits even go beyond your feet. 💥 

  2. Work your feet. Wearing super supportive shoes is a disservice to your foot's beautiful architecture and natural capability. Undoubtedly, there is a need for support and safety when addressing imbalanced and tender feet that may cause further distress to your biomechanics. It's also necessary to establish a baseline and build a foundation for your feet to serve you for a very long time. I've found a mix of tools, exercises, and stretches that have challenged and built my feet over time. Feel free to message and I’ll share some tips and tricks with you. 🦺 

  3. Love your feet. I'm sure you often hear how much you should love yourself and love your body in modern times. I'm talking about the kind of love that shows your feet r-e-s-p-e-c-t. They are going to serve you for a long time. Honoring and taking care of them with the likes of reflexology, foot baths, and regular grooming will set you up for a deeper and thus healthier relationship with your foundational contact to this planet. 🌎 

1

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Special-section-Feet-How-your-feet-work---and-three-steps-for-keeping-them-healthy