New Year’s has come and gone, but the important work of 2013 has only just begun. This year, consider making lasting foot health your new year’s resolution! Attention and time given to natural foot health concepts and activities can yield profound foot health benefits, both for foot injury prevention and improved quality of life. Caring for your feet and allowing them to function the way nature intended can keep you pain-free and performing those activities you love most. In most cases, the answer to long-term natural foot health is simple and involves removing the impediments to optimal foot functioning and remaining disciplined in your natural foot care routine. Here are a few simple and effective ways to care for your feet this new year and beyond:
Wear Healthy Shoes as Much as Possible
Resolve to wear only healthy shoes as much as possible in 2013. This simple strategy will help you treat or prevent some of the most common foot, toe, and lower extremity problems, including bunions, hammertoes, plantar fasciosis, interdigital neuromas, and ingrown toenails. Healthy shoes allow your feet and toes to function the way nature intended; that is, with toes splayed and heel and forefoot on a level plane. Healthy shoes are shoes that don’t get in the way of your feet or alter your gait in any way. Using healthy shoes is especially important for weight-bearing activities, including weight-bearing activities in both casual and athletic situations. Wearing conventional footwear (with its many injurious design features) for running and walking can accelerate toe deformities and lead to chronic foot and toe problems.
Resolve to Make Wise Footwear Purchases
To ensure natural foot health in the new year, make your next footwear purchase one that incorporates all the desired design features we typically look for in shoes. Key design features to consider when shopping for new footwear are degree of heel elevation and toe spring, toe box width, and sole flexibility. An ideal shoe has no heel elevation or toe spring, only a completely flat sole from heel to toe. This flat platform allows your principle foot arch to act as it is supposed to and helps enable natural arch support. A sufficiently wide toe box is widest at the ends of your toes and allows your toes to splay optimally when standing, walking, or running. A shoe with a flexible sole improves your tactile sensation of the ground and helps strengthen your intrinsic, or internal, foot muscles. You should be able to easily fold the shoe in half or twist its sole with little restriction.
Wear Correct Toes Every Day
Wearing your Correct Toes every day is an excellent way to achieve lasting foot and toe health in 2013. Correct Toes creates space between your toes and realigns your toes to their normal anatomical position. In this optimal position, your toes are free to perform as they were intended, and you are less likely to experience the foot and toe problems that plague so many shod, or shoe-wearing, individuals. It’s important to transition into Correct Toes use slowly, as it can take some time for your foot to adapt to this new toe orientation. It’s also important that you use your Correct Toes in shoes that possess sufficiently wide toe boxes. You can use your Correct Toes on your bare feet, over toe socks, or within conventional socks. Some people use Correct Toes as a night splint to help treat bunions and other foot and toe problems.
Perform Relevant Foot Stretches Regularly
Certain foot stretches can enhance your foot health, especially if you perform them on a regular basis, according to your healthcare practitioner’s instructions. We find several foot and toe stretches particularly helpful, including the toe extensor stretch. This stretch helps lengthen tight toe extensor muscles and tendons. Tight toe extensors can cause a variety of foot and toe problems, and the toe extensor stretch helps balance the pull of toe extensor and flexor tendons on your toes. Other helpful foot stretches or exercises include the bunion stretch and the hacky sack grab exercise, both of which can be easily performed at home.
Be Active & SMART!
Being physically active in 2013 is an excellent way to ensure natural foot health, especially if you choose to be active in footwear that allows you to incorporate Correct Toes and respects nature’s brilliant foot design. We encourage you to select an activity that you find truly enjoyable to help put your feet and toes to good use. We also encourage you to set fitness goals that are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound (e.g., “I want to be able to run 5 miles in 40 minutes by May 15.”). A SMART approach to fitness or health goals keeps you engaged in the process of health attainment, and it ensures that you experience frequent successes to keep you motivated.
Resolve to make natural foot health a priority in 2013. Visit our website to learn more about the strategies to do just this. May 2013 bring you all lasting foot and toe health!