Imagine wearing a cast on your right arm 12 hours a day and then holding it by your side, doing nothing, for the remaining 12 hours of your day.
Imagine you did this for decades, all while your left arm actively participated in your daily life. Think your right arm would look and function differently than your left arm? I think so too.
Shoes, whether they're high heels or just "regular" shoes, are a type of cast that restrict the natural movement of our feet day in and day out, year after year, decade after decade.
Our feet look, and function, quite differently than they would if they were active participants in our daily life.
But I wear minimalist shoes.
That's wonderful. I love my minimalist shoes! Both my daughter and I have been wearing them for 3 years, but she's 5 and I'm 43.
Look at the difference in our ability to spread our toes (one indication of foot mobility).
Notice how much more tension I have in my foot compared to hers.
There's no way I've cancelled out the (whole body) effect of wearing shoes for 39 years by wearing minimalist shoes for 3 years .
The muscles in my feet have atrophied from lack of use, my joints have become less mobile, my movement patterns have adapted.
Restoring mobility to your feet isn't just about changing your shoes.
It's not just the shoes that restrict the movement of our feet. It's also the surfaces that we walk on. Most of us also walk on conveniently flat, level surfaces that require very little from the 33 joints in each of our feet.
Changing to minimal shoes and continuing to walk on flat, level surfaces puts a limit on restoring foot mobility.
Often we need more direct approaches like a comprehensive exercise program focused on feet along with varied terrain.
DIY cobblestone mat to the rescue!
Restoring foot mobility is a process. One that's best done gradually, even for us overachievers who want everything to have happened yesterday. It took years to create the feet we have now. It'll take time to do a makeover.
One great way to start introducing the joints and muscles in our feet to a little more movement is with a cobblestone mat.
The uneven surface gently stretches and mobilizes our feet. Mobile feet have all kinds of benefits including decreasing wear and tear on our knees and hips as well as helping us reap the pelvic floor benefits of walking.
Cobblestone mats have also been shown to have some interesting health benefits like reducing blood pressure and improving balance.
Watch the video below for an easy, inexpensive way to make your own, along with some tips for getting started using it. Remember, start gradually.
Combine this with the foot mobilizing exercises I share here and your feet will thank you!
Note: I used the Yaktrax boot tray.