It’s important to consider what Spring and Summer shoe choices you’re making, because your choice in footwear can make a dramatic difference in how your whole body feels. Your shoe choices will either be setting you up for better health, or potentially can create more aches, pains, and increase your risk of injuries.
Ahhhh Spring…. flowers are blooming, the grass is turning green, and it’s the time for new beginnings! Which usually inspires a lot of us to start Spring cleaning around the house. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate what shoes you’re wearing to decide if they are helping or hurting your feet.
Is it time to retire your old tennies, and get a new pair of shoes that have better arch support?
Are you gearing up, and getting ready to wear more flip-flops, and sexy sandals?
Here are a few thoughts to consider as you start making your Spring and Summer shoe choices:
Make Good Shoe Choices, and Be Picky with What You Wear on Your Feet.
Be sure EVERY shoe you chose to wear is comfortable. Your shoes need to provide enough space for your toes, and support your arches properly. It’s also important that your shoes don’t cause your ankles to roll inward or outward. And keep in mind, it is possible for shoes to be cute and still support your feet!
Avoid Flip-Flops, and Strapless, Slip-On Shoes.
Flip-flops and strapless sandals are the worst possible shoe choice for your feet! Shoes without a strap around the ankle/heel to hold the shoe on your foot can lead to all sorts of aches and pains. You might not realize it, but bad shoe choices can create knee, hip, and back pain problems too…
With these type of poor shoe choices, the muscles of your feet cannot work properly. Your walking stride will be shortened (or you’ll walk out of your shoes…) In a flip-flop your toes scrunch up to keep your shoes on. (Your toes are supposed to be lengthening out and pushing off the ground to propel you forward.) The forefoot muscles (under the ball of the foot) will get weaker, and your hindfoot muscles will get tighter. You may face more problems with plantar fasciitis, more foot cramps, more achy ankles, and can end up with flat feet/fallen arches. Plus, flip-flops with that “thong” between your big and second toe, can create or aggravate bunions.
In addition to foot pain problems, this lack of support at your feet (because of poor shoe choices) is going to affect whole-body posture. No part of your body will be in optimal alignment for healthy movement. Which means, increased stress, wear and tear, and muscle imbalances from head to toe.
Why are You Wearing Your Oldest, Most Worn-Out Shoes for Yardwork?
It’s interesting that we do this… Invest a lot of money in a good pair of shoes to workout. Save the oldest, crappiest, pair of shoes we’ve got, and designate them as our “yard shoes!”
So, you’re on your feet, walking, mowing, weed whacking, digging, planting… sometimes for hours, or an entire afternoon, or whole weekend, wearing worn-out, zero support footwear. Remember misalignment from the ground up is putting more stress and strain on your body. Do you ever wonder if maybe you’d feel better when you were finished working in the yard if your feet were in good, supportive pair of shoes for all those long hours of manual labor?
Here’s a suggestion: Buy a brand new pair of shoes that provide good support for your feet. Designate them as your “Yard Shoes.” If all you wear them for is mowing and gardening, they might even last a Summer or two. Do you even remember what year you purchased the shoes you’re wearing for yardwork right now? Throw them away and start fresh with a good pair of shoes. Can’t promise it’s going to make the job easier, but it will help support your body better.
Like to go Barefoot – GREAT!
Barefoot activities are excellent for giving your ankles, arches, and toes an opportunity to move freely. But not everyone is comfortable walking around with bare feet. And if you’re at the pool, hot cement is no fun! While it’s quick to slide into a flip-flop, the risk/reward of reinforcing bad body mechanics (in my opinion) isn’t worth it. It only takes a few seconds longer to strap a pair of sandals onto your feet, whether you’re at the pool, or getting a pedicure.
Are You Experiencing Annoying Foot Pain Problems?
Recently, I’ve had several clients complaining about new foot pain issues. My first question has been, “How old are your shoes?” Every single person has commented…”Well…I’ve only been wearing them for a couple of years.” But the weather is getting nicer, they’re starting to get outside and are inspired to be more active… They’re just not wearing shoes that are supporting their feet, and the body is letting them know it’s a problem. Why wait until you’re feet hurt to buy new shoes?
As a general rule, it’s good to replace your walking/running shoes every 300-500 miles. Which might be every three to six months if you’re doing 20 miles a week. It’s also important to factor in your training schedule, the terrain, your body weight, foot strike, and gait mechanics. Another thing to consider: Are you just wearing this pair of shoes for workouts, or are they your all day, everyday shoes too?
If you’ve been wearing the same pair of walking/running shoes for a year, (or two,) or longer… you might seriously want to consider upgrading your shoes a little more frequently, to help better support your body.
It’s important to note:
If you are actively working on improving your foot fitness, posture, body alignment, strength, flexibility, and fitness whether it’s with Pilates, Yoga, targeted foot-fitness training, or other functional movement training methods, congratulations on working developing new and better movement habits!
Please keep in mind that continuing to wear old shoes is only going to reinforce old movement habits. This will make it more challenging to eliminate muscle imbalances. Get your feet in new shoes more frequently. New shoes can help you continue to progress your functional fitness, and support better alignment for your feet and whole-body.
And if you’re inspired to be in Spring cleaning mode, take the time to evaluate what’s in your shoe closet. Toss or donate the shoes you’ve got that you know aren’t good for your feet. Start fresh and make good shoe choices to set yourself up for fewer annoying foot pain problems. Keep your feet healthy to ensure you can enjoy all the sports and activities you love this Spring and Summer.
Interested in focusing on improving your foot fitness? Check out the Centerworks RunFit Kit 2.0(not just for runners…) Get targeted training resources for foot-care. Discover easy to learn exercises to help improve the strength, flexibility, and fitness of your ankles, arches, and toes.
Benefits of Incorporating Foot Fitness Training into Your Weekly Workout Routine:
Reduce and/or eliminate foot cramps
Get help for plantar fasciitis issues
Improve toe alignment and mobility for bunions & hammer toes
Activate arch support to help flat feet
Reduce stress from high arches
Take the pressure off tight Achilles tendons
Strengthen your ankles to reduce the risk of ankle sprains and strains
Reduce the risk of injuries (for your feet and whole body)
Q&A about foot fitness resources from Centerworks.com
This week I received an email with questions about some of the foot fitness resources I’ve got available at Centerworks.com. I had such a great conversation with Lisa about taking care of her feet and figuring out the best exercises for feet after foot surgery, that I asked if I could share our conversation in a blog post. I’m sure Lisa isn’t the only person out there recovering from foot surgery and wondering what the next step is to get back to 100% with healthy, pain-free feet.
Questions about Foot Care after Foot Surgery:
“Hi Aliesa, I just saw your foot saver demo on You Tube, but before I try these out I wanted to make sure they would help with the issue I’m experiencing. I just had foot surgery in my mid-foot area for a bone spur that was pressing against a nerve that runs along the first metatarsal area. During surgery, the doctor had to cut a tendon that was pressing against this same nerve. The procedure went beautifully; the problems I was experiencing before are mostly gone. But now that I am able to get around more, I want to find things I can do to help loosen up the stiffness I am feeling near the incision, especially with my toes. They are very stiff, probably because I had to keep my foot pretty immobile, allowing the incision to heal properly. Using my recumbent bike has really helped so I tried adding towel curls to help stretch out this area. However, I am so stiff I cannot do those at all. The muscles/tendons (?) are way too stiff. I then found a stretch where all you do is interlace your fingers between your toes and, oh my gosh, that was surprisingly, extremely painful. I immediately felt stabbing pains along the nerve area, which tells me it’s too soon to do that. As I was looking for another solution, I came across your foot savers. Do you think they would help loosen up this toe issue? It’s only been 17 days since my surgery, and I didn’t know if it was too early to use them. Normally, when I’ve had surgeries in the past, I have needed to wait 6 weeks before doing any type of PT so I wanted your opinion on that, as well. Thank you for your time.” Lisa.
Answers from Aliesa George, Centerworks.com
Thanks for contacting me! I’m glad that your foot surgery went well, and you are recovering. I can’t give you any specific advice because I’m not your foot surgeon. That would be who I’d be chatting with to inquire about when you can start incorporating foot exercises into your weekly routine after foot surgery. I would think that 17 days out is way too soon, and your body needs more time to heal (For most parts of the body that 6-8-week window of healing time is always best). But, sometimes the doctor wants you moving things around much sooner, and other issues need longer healing time. So please call your doctor and get more assistance from him/her on post-recovery protocol.
Also, it will be helpful for you to know from your surgeon if there are any ranges of movement that are contra-indicated after foot surgery. Meaning post-surgery because of what’s been surgically repaired, your body cannot physically bend or move in certain directions any more. Sometimes this is forever, other times, just during the healing process.
A few questions to ask your doctor are:
How long to rest your feet and recover?
Are there any movements, foot exercises, or activities that you cannot do or work on improving once you’re healed?
Are there specific foot-care exercises your doctor recommends doing post-surgery?
Sometimes there are things they really don’t want you to do, or things that post surgery are impossible, and attempting them will only undo all the corrections that were made surgically. Knowledge is power, the more good questions you ask, the better informed you’ll be on what is safe and appropriate to help heal your feet.
When your doctor gives you the green light, and you know what specifically you can do safely and need to avoid, then it will be appropriate to look at what your options are to keep your feet strong, stretched, and supporting you properly.
The Foot Savers can be great for everybody, but for sure are too much too soon right now. The exercises in my book – Fantastic Feet, might be a better starting point (when you’re approved by your doc to do something!). There is a section in the Fantastic Feet book of Toe Exercises – and for most people this is the best place to start, regardless of the reason you want to improve foot fitness. You’ll be using your hands to “gently” manipulate the toes in different ranges of movement, until the muscle of the feet become strong and mobile enough to move your feet. Then there are exercises in the book that can progress you from non-weight bearing, up to weight bearing…which might be safer then starting out doing standing foot exercises post-surgery.
Hope this helps get you started. Call your doctor and ask more questions. Sometimes you can get Physical Therapy, if it’s offered take advantage of it. If it’s not offered, ask if it’s an option. Generally speaking, ALL the products that I offer for foot fitness are good for your feet (and you can get them individually or get them all at once in the RunFit Kit. You don’t have to be a runner to benefit from all these great foot care resources) – but not every exercise is appropriate for every person. It’s knowing what you can do that is safe and appropriate, and how to do your exercises correctly that will ensure that what you are doing is helping you get your feet back to 100% good health.
There are lots of wonderful foot fitness exercises out there to incorporate once you’re healed. And also lots of ways to exercise the rest of your body without putting pressure on your feet. You just need to seek the assistance of the right health professionals to help guide you. Our feet are important and it’s challenging to really give them the break they need to rest and recover after foot surgery, or any foot injury.
If you’ve dealt with foot pain for very long, chances are you’ve “gimped” and limped around for a few weeks/months/years? And the compensation habits you’ve developed while trying to stay off a painful foot can create muscle imbalances throughout the rest of your body that you might not even realize you’ve created (until something else starts hurting…)
Not sure where you live, but finding a great Pilates studio in your area and taking some Private sessions would be an excellent way to help you exercise everything from your head to your toes in a safe and supported environment. (Once your Doctor gives you the green light to get started exercising again!)
We’ve only got one pair of feet and they need to get us around for a lifetime. Taking good care of everything from our head to our toes is important for a healthy, active life. Accidents happen, and occasionally surgery is the best, or only option. Patience, rest, recovery, and then getting started with a doctor-recommended rehab/recovery program can be the best way to get back to optimal health.
A Sprained Ankle Doesn’t Have to Become a Chronic Foot Pain Problem
Can’t remember the last time I had a sprained ankle… It’s been 30 years or more. My silly sprained ankle accident happened a week ago Saturday. I stepped in a low spot in a parking lot and turned my ankle. Really wrenched it! My foot turned completely sideways and all my weight went on it. I quickly righted myself, and limped for a few steps, then proceeded with my day, kind of amazed that nothing “popped” seemed to crack, or hurt very badly. If it had been anybody else, (who doesn’t focus on foot fitness,) I’m guessing they would have been carted off to the emergency room with way more than a sprained ankle, probably a fractured foot, or lots of torn tendons and ligaments.
Is my foot 100% back to normal, not quite. I overstretched things a lot! And I’m counting myself very lucky, it should have been so much worse than just a sprained ankle. I’m still treating it gingerly to heal fully. BUT zero swelling, zero bruising, and when I went to the chiropractor today, I have full movement, the joint is open, and he was amazed when I told him what I’d done. My foot and ankle are only a little sore, with a tiny bit of inflammation which is so much less than I expected based on my stupid parking lot mishap. (Silly things happen to the best of us.)
Why am I sharing this? Because preventative medicine isn’t just pills and potions. There are so many things we can do to ensure good health. It starts with learning how to listen to the body and take care of our daily needs. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and daily exercise can go a long way to preventing illness and injury for a happy, healthy, and active life. I was tired, I’d had a long workout, and wasn’t really looking at where I put my foot down when my accident happened. So know I’m dealing with the repercussions of my little mishap.
It’s important to listen to our bodies when something is not quite right, to allow the healing time necessary to keep injuries from turning into chronic pain problems if you really want to stay healthy. This seems especially challenging when we’ve got foot pain problems, because we need our feet to take us where we want/need to go. If you limp around on a sprained ankle, and do you really think it’s going to get better quickly?
A holistic approach to good health means one should pay attention to everything they do as our choices affect our outcomes. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying which holds true here too. It’s easier to stay healthy, than to get your good health back. Making wise choices with everything you do will help maintain your good health.
My question for you to consider today…
(I’m assuming that you’re already making lots of great efforts to improve your wellness) If you’re making great health choices for the rest of your body… What are you doing for your feet?
Good health starts from the ground up! If you want to fine-tune your fitness, improve your posture for better body alignment and keep all your muscles working well, please don’t forget about your feet!
What do I know saved me from a serious foot injury last week and has me dealing with just a sprained ankle? The foot fitness exercises I do and teach! Especially what’s listed below:
The Terrific Toe series exercises, and Standing foot exercises from the Fantastic Feet book
The Super-Ankle Foot Fit Board exercises
My lateral skate training, and Coreglide board classes at Bodhi Body Pilates
My weekly Pilates workouts with focused foot exercises including Footwork, the Stomach Massage series, and Running on the Reformer.
I’m so very grateful to be walking this week! But trust me, I’m not walking for a workout, or doing much in a full-weight bearing position. Giving my foot a little rest-break to recover, then planning to double up on my foot-care routine to ensure it’s a very long time (hopefully never) before something like this happens again!
To take good care of your feet, and be sure you’ve got the resources you need to stretch, and strengthen your ankles, arches, and toes – I recommend you get a Runfit Kit. The Runfit Kit contains all my favorite foot-fitness exercise tools and toys to help keep your feet in tip-top shape for better health. (Running is not a requirement, to get benefits from the foot-care resources in this helpful foot-care kit!)
Get your feet back in shape with the right foot-fitness exercises in your post-surgery recovery plan to retrain your body and help keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
Foot Surgery and Exercise, the Next Step…
Foot-Care Training Tips to Help Get Your Feet Back in Shape
“I just had foot surgery ten weeks ago bunion and two hammertoes how do I get my feet back in shape I do yoga Pilates and aerobics also any DVD exercises?” ~ Fran
A great question from Fran about recovering from foot surgery and exercise, popped into my inbox this week. Fran wants to know how to get her feet back in shape post-surgery. And I’m sure she’s not the only one out there looking for foot-care training tips after foot surgery.
Many of my clients who have had foot surgery were released by their doctor and not sent to Physical Therapy to do any type of rehab after surgery. But from my experience over the past forty years helping bodies move better to reduce pain and improve performance, learning targeted foot fitness exercises can be a very beneficial part of recovering from foot surgery.
Continue Reading ‘Recovering from Foot Surgery and Exercise
Fixing Your Feet – Foot Exercise Solutions to Reduce Bunion Pain
Do you have a painful bunion and are surfing the net looking for solutions? When I get good questions in my inbox, I like to share the answers because I know there are other folks out there searching for solutions for their foot pain problems. This question about foot fitness exercises for a painful bunion came in this week. Check out the foot pain question, and my foot fitness tips, suggestions, and exercise recommendations below. Hope this information can help you get started alleviating foot pain too!
Questions about Foot Fitness Exercises and the Right Resources for a Painful Bunion:
“I am 58. I walk 4 to 5 miles every morning with dogs so a decent pace. I have a painful bunion on my right foot/large toe which has limited my toe movement. I have now developed pain in my left heel. It takes me a while in the morning or anytime I rise from a sitting position to gain balance. I am not large – 5’3 140 pounds. What do I need to order? Also, can I increase my right toe flexibility?” – Suzanne.
Aliesa’s Foot Fitness Thoughts and Suggestions:
Sorry to hear that you’re having foot pain. Thanks for the questions about your painful bunion, heel pain, and figuring out which foot fitness exercises will be best for you to start helping your feet to feel better. Below are some thoughts and suggestions to help get you started with foot exercise solutions to reduce bunion pain, and fix your feet.
Consult with Your Doctor or Podiatrist
My first recommendation for you is to consult with your physician or podiatrist to see if there is anything medically that needs to be addressed for your body. With the green light from your doctor to exercise your feet, my answer is yes it may be possible to increase your right toe flexibility. In working with my Pilates clients over the past twenty years, and teaching Fantastic Feet workshops, I’ve seen a lot of people reduce foot pain and improve their health with the right exercises in their training programs.
It’s going to take a combination of strategies to start re-aligning your toes. Your doctor might recommend toe spacers, orthotics, or other devices to help hold your toes in better alignment. Then getting the right foot-fitness exercises in your weekly workouts to stretch and strengthen your feet can help you get the right muscles working for better support.
Clean Out Your Closet and Replace Your Shoes
Also the shoes you’re wearing will also make a difference. Throw away ALL flip-flops, clogs, and strapless/backless shoes. If your shoes aren’t strapped onto your feet, they aren’t helping your alignment, and your toe and arch muscles can’t work correctly! Keep in mind that your current shoes are holding your current gait patterns when you walk, so it’s important as you improve your foot fitness, that you get new shoes to help reinforce your new and improved foot fitness habits!
Start Improving the Strength, Flexibility, and Fitness of Your Feet with Targeted Foot-Fitness Exercises
In my opinion with a bunion, it’s not just the flexibility that’s needed to get the big toe back in better alignment, but the strength to HOLD it there. And targeted foot fitness exercises for your ankles, arches, and toes is the only way to create better muscle balance for improved foot fitness and whole-body health.
Centerworks® Resources for Foot Fitness Exercises to Reduce Bunion Pain
The best place to get started improving toe and foot alignment is the Terrific Toe Series in the Fantastic Feet book. These simple foot fitness exercises are non-weight bearing (and chances are your fingers will do more work than your toes for a while until the muscles in your feet get stronger.)
The Runfit Kit will have the Fantastic Feet book and everything I’ve mentioned above plus the Super-Ankle Foot Fit Board, which may come in handy to keep your ankles strong and flexible to help eliminate your heel pain.
When our feet hurt, or bones aren’t in proper alignment, we shift our gait and change our stride to avoid putting pressure on the parts that are painful. The problem with this is while it works for a while to keep us moving, in the long run it’s only setting you up for pain and potential injuries farther up the chain – ankles, knees, hips, back…
Getting Better Balance and Body Control
Our feet play a huge role, not only in propelling us forward, but for balance and body control. Everything from the soles of your feet, to your hips and core has a role to play for better balance.
I realize that you’re only asking about your Big Toe here, but it’s all connected! I can’t with a clear conscience tell you that just doing one exercise for your big toe is going to be the magic solution for better body alignment.
If you’ve got more questions, or would like to come see me in Wichita for a consultation so I can give you more personalized recommendations to help improve your foot fitness, please let me know. And if you’re interested in participating in a workshop, click here to see the schedule for upcoming Awesome Workshops™.
Regardless of how your feet feel today, it is possible to reduce stress, eliminate aches, and pains and help your painful bunions feel better. Bunion surgery is an option, but I’m a fan of being pro-active and exploring non-surgical options first! A little more targeted training time for your ankles, arches, and toes, just might do the trick to improve your big toe alignment and help keep your feet feeling fit, healthy, and pain-free!
Preventative medicine isn’t just pills and potions. There are many things we can do to ensure good health. It starts with learning how to listen to the body and take care of our daily needs. Eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, and daily exercise can go a long way to preventing illness and injury to enjoy a happy, healthy, and active life.
Joseph Pilates philosophies for health improvement cover much more than just physical exercise. A holistic approach to good health means one should pay attention to everything they do as our choices affect our outcomes. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying which holds true here too. It’s easier to stay healthy, than to get your good health back. Make wise choices with everything you do to help maintain your good health.
*** So you’re making great health choices…but what are you doing for your feet? Good health starts from the ground up! Want to fine-tune your fitness, improve your posture for better body alignment to keep your muscles working well. Don’t forget about your feet! Click here to get access to a free video with Foot Fitness Exercise Tips.
Foot Fitness Training for Pilates Teachers is the third workshop in the Centerworks Spring 2014 series of Pilates CEC Courses. Let’s have some fun with your feet. Good health starts from the ground up!
Explore the foundation of our posture and propulsion system with a targeted focus on the feet. By incorporating the Fantastic Feet exercises, Pilates equipment exercises, and other helpful foot fitness resources into your Pilates programs, you can inspire your clients to focus on their feet to enhance the benefits from their Pilates program for better whole‐body health.
This 2-day, 12-hour Centerworks course includes hands‐on learning and practice and will incorporate exercises that can be incorporated into Matwork, as well as foot-focused exercises on the Pilates equipment, and supplemental foot fitness resources.
This course is pending approval for CEC Credits through Pilates Method Alliance.
DATE: Saturday, February 22 – Sunday, February 23, 2014 TIME: 9:30am – 5:00pm LOCATION: Centerworks Pilates Studio, Wichita, KS
Are you still out shopping and looking for great fitness gift ideas for the health enthusiasts in your life?
What could be better than wellness solutions for better mind-body health from your head to your toes.
These are perfect fitness gifts for Pilates students, Runners, Walkers, Athletes, Dancers, and regular everyday folks who are inspired to improve their health and fitness at home, at the gym, or on the road. Check out these easy to use, products, books, and resources from the whole-body health experts at Centerworks® and give the gift of good health for the Holidays!
Continue Reading ‘Merry Fitness! 10 Great Fitness Gift Ideas from Centerworks®