Winter Footwear...Beware!The Massage Manual- February edition
Posted in the February |LIVE|BODY monthly newsletter
I have to admit that I check out peoples feet. On the subway, on the street, I can't seem to help myself. The most cringe-inducing thing I see has to be the lack of support people are giving to their feet and ankles. Flip flops are the summer culprit, and in winter the worst is the soft moccasin boot, like Ugg and Emu boots. The lack of support both in the ankles and the arch of the foot can cause painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis and "shin splints". The flat sole of the shoe allows the foot to pronate (the arch to fall) - meaning you have no shock absorption. The impact is then absorbed into your ankles, your knees, your hips and even your back. So, can lack of foot support be the cause for your back and knee pain? Absolutely.
I see the same problem with women's high heels. I often have to stop myself from approaching people and begging them to invest in some supportive footwear. What I see is their feet wobbling and inverting (foot turning in) as they put their weight down, often the stiletto heel wobbles on every step. This puts incredible strain on the ligaments on the outside of your ankle and the muscles in legs. When you buy heels make sure they are stable, walk around the store and ask a friend to see if you are wobbling or if your ankles are turned in or out. If you wear heels everyday you will have shortened calf muscles and an over-lengthened tibialis anterior (on the front your shin) causing walking in flat shoes to be uncomfortable.
Take a look at the sole and heel of your shoe. If you see wear significantly more on the outside, you are likely supinating your foot and straining your "ATFL" ligament on the outside of your ankle. If you see more wear on the inside you are likely pronating and loosing your arch support. Seeing a podiatrist and getting some proper insoles means you can wear your favorite shoes and avoid the wear and tear on your body. A massage therapist can help you interpret these wear patterns, and asses your feet, ankles and related joints to get a picture of your biomechanics and help you improve any muscle imbalances. Often the hips, legs, and feet will need treatment to loosen tight muscles, release painful knots and lengthen connective tissue. A strengthening program for the over-lengthened muscles will help support your joints, helping you adjust to your new proper biomechanics much faster.
Be nice to your feet - take care of yourself.