Have you ever been in our office, noticed I wasn’t wearing shoes, and thought, ‘well isn’t that strange?’ I often get asked why I work barefoot, so I thought I’d write a newsletter about why I choose to work this way.
Let's go back to my childhood when I was a competitive figure skater. Five times a week, for about 15 years, I squished my feet into tight figure skates. As a result of the repetitive squishing, I now have what we call hammer toes. My toes curl under, as you can see in the photo. Also my big toes are pushed outwards, towards my other 4 toes, and I'm starting to develop bunyons.
While shoes are necessary for keeping our feet safe from debris, and skates are great for physical activity and enjoyment, they very often lead to foot issues over time. Think of shoes or skates as a cast. When you break a bone a cast is needed to stabilize the area to allow the bone to heal. However, the cast prevents movement, specifically from the muscles. If you have had a broken bone before, then you will know that when you get the cast off you must do exercises to strengthen the muscles back up. Because those muscles didn't move for a period of time, they became weak! Well the same thing happens in your feet. Shoes or skates restrict movement, weaken our feet and overtime will mold our feet into the squished position.
This is exactly why I choose to not wear shoes at work. I have already done a lot of damage to my feet from my years of skating and wearing tight shoes. By working barefoot, I'm not further constricting my feet, and I'm building up the strength of my foot muscles. I recognize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to work barefoot, so at least have a no-shoe home rule, especially for kids, and always buy shoes that have a roomy toe box and low heel. Unfortunately high heels are not roomy, so limit high heel wearing to weddings and special functions. Now there is an entire category of 'minimal shoes' that work great at protecting your feet from debris, but allowing your muscles to contract and move optimally. You can purchase these are most sports stores including Ramakko's.
To further help the corrective process, I use this product every night while I'm reading or watching tv. You can find these online if you search 'Toe Separators' on amazon.ca. Or you can even use the toe separators you buy to paint your toe nails. This product forces my toes into the opposite alignment that shoes and skates do, and overtime will help me correct my problem.
Overall it is important to know that just like your spinal alignment, you can change your foot alignment! It is never too late. You just need to invest your time and effort, and be consistent!
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