Feet may not be the best-looking part of your body and probably not the best smelling, but they sure are important for getting from point A to B, maintaining balance and pushing the limits of the human body to accomplish incredible feats. Bipedalism (walking on two legs) brought about a tremendous evolutionary change; it enabled us to move long distances with more efficiency, use tools for advanced tasks (hunting, for example), and communicate non-verbally, among other changes. With this development, instead of bearing body weight on four extremities, those forces are directed to only two. Fortunately, like our hands, the feet were intended to be dynamic yet stable in the full range of mobility. The adaptability of the human body is dependent on a wide variety of “nutritious movement”.
The many bones in the foot also mean many joints. These joints allow for adaptive and vigorous movements that distribute forces. Ancestral peoples were estimated to walk an average of 3.5 to 7 miles daily in their hunter-gatherer lifestyles, which included lots of dynamic movement, rest and social time. In the modern world, sedentary lifestyles and restrictive footwear are the norm, and the “nutritious movement” we once experienced is quite lacking. This has led to deterioration in joint mobility and muscular stability. Our feet are weak and dead.
Restoration of this foundational aspect of the body takes time but can be accomplished. Start with taking off those darn shoes. This might be uncomfortable for some people starting off, even to the point of not being able to walk a few steps. Again, using the low and slow approach is best to avoid injury. This can be frustrating in our “quick fix” society, but is a necessary step. Other methods to begin the process include rolling your feet on balls of varying size and hardness (tennis ball, baseball, golf ball). As you progress, start walking on more irregular surfaces in your yard or parks. Allow your feet to take in these nutrients! As your body adapts to the feedback it is receiving, you will develop better strength, mobility and balance. See my video for more detail.