Each person's structure is unique. We have distinct anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Even feet of an adult deviate from a standard template, having their own individual structure and function. They're arguably one of our greatest gifts, enabling us to experience life from our very first steps. Yet, do we truly appreciate their significance? Often, we encase them in shoes and cover them in socks, inadvertently imprisoning our most valuable assets. Perhaps, if we paused to consider their importance, we might rethink our choices.
Throughout our lives, feet of an adult undergo constant change, adapting and evolving based on our self-care. They house approximately 70,000 surface sensing receptors, allowing them to detect even the slightest irregularities, whether we're wearing shoes or not. They sense temperature variations and distinguish between wet and dry surfaces. By closing our feet in tight socks or ill-fitting shoes, we hinder not only their movement but also impede blood and lymphatic flow.
Common issue for adult feet arising from this mistreatment is damage to the metatarsus, the region between the ankle and toes. This can lead to tightened ligaments and tendons, potentially culminating in a condition known as Hammer toes. In severe cases, the big toe may become deformed, resulting in the formation of a bunion, or hallux valgus. A bunion is more than just a bump on the side of the big toe; it reflects structural changes in the front part of the foot, with the big toe leaning towards the second toe instead of aligning straight.
Foot pain isn't always visible; it can manifest as discomfort in our legs or feet. Misaligned posture due to improper weight distribution, often coming from incorrect standing, can contribute to this discomfort. Muscle imbalances may result from long periods of inactivity or excess weight, perpetually exerting pressure on our feet. Even when static, our feet work to minimize impact on our hips, spine, and joints. They support the pelvic floor and enable deep breathing. They serve as natural shock absorbers, reducing the intensity of energy from the ground.
Feet of an adult require support, strength, stability, and well-conditioned muscles and ligaments. From an early age, we must ensure they're adorned in soft, comfortable footwear rather than limited. Inappropriate shoe choices, such as stilettos, can have lasting effects, primarily affecting the metatarsus. Childhood foot deformities can lead to lifelong issues, which may be exacerbated by weight gain, pregnancy, or stress-induced injuries as we age.
So, how do we address this? How do we lower this stress? Earthing, the practice of connecting with the earth through our bare feet, is known to be beneficial. It aids in thermoregulation, allowing us to perceive hot and cold sensations, an essential aspect of our sensory experience. However, not everyone has the luxury of spending a day barefoot. The next best solution is to wear shoes that replicate the sensation of walking barefoot. Opting for supportive, light shoes allows us to come as close as possible to experiencing the benefits of barefoot walking.