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Free Your Feet and Reap The Benefits

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By Sarah Anisman | sarah@rpexperts.com | 760.709.2330

Mammoth Lakes, CA Fitness Program

As I embarked on my first Spring run of the season through the majestic Eastern Sierra the other day, my brain considerately asked me…are your feet ready for this?

We have 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of over 100 ligaments, muscles, and tendons in each foot.

All of those bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons are what carry our weight around every single day. Isn’t it time we started paying a little more attention and offering a little more TLC to our tootsies?

Freeing the feet offers a new level of body awareness. It enables us to identify the entire kinetic chain and allows us to readjust how we walk or stand to relieve any pain experienced in the ankles, knees, hips, etc. When we realign, we can reverse the problem(s).

Ever stand with one knee bent and all your weight on that side? How do your hips and back feel after that? Think about it…

Not only can strengthening the feet assist in realigning the body and reducing pain from the ground up, it may be able to get you out of those orthotics your feet have been resting in for so long.

Over the past three decades, fitness shoe manufacturers have developed advanced technology to cushion and control motion in our feet and ankles. This advanced support prevents articulation of our joints and soft tissue.

Because of this, we’ve lost flexibility and mobility and our feet have become stiff and weak from being bound in a shoe all day. Our feet are over-supported due to cushioning which, in some cases, may actually be detrimental to our posture and alignment.

With the explosion of the minimalistic shoe, such as the Vibram Five Fingers® (you know, the ones your kids can’t bear to witness you wearing in public), more and more people are beginning to recognize the validity, not to mention comfort, of barefoot movement once they make the decision to free their feet.

However, with this increasingly popular shoe comes responsibility.
Too many people go out, buy these awesome little “gloves for your feet,” and (for example) pop them on for a run equal to the distance they would run in the cushioned shoes they have been running in forever. Oy.

The aftermath of jumping into that barefoot run without properly training their feet for movement they aren’t used to can be troublesome. Either you can’t walk the next day because your calves are screaming from the unfamiliar movement and improper impact, or your ankle(s) immediately roll and/or suffer injury.

Friends, this has happened to some of the best, and most educated, movers and fitness gurus I have ever encountered in my field.

What is unfortunate is, advanced mover or not, these kinds of injuries are the main cause of the assumption that claims barefoot training is unsafe and/or “bad for your body.”

Education on how to use and strengthen your feet, so that they can continue to carry your body weight in an efficient and effective manner, is critical. Barefoot is about training smarter, not harder.

For info on some great Foot Fitness Exercises to strengthen your feet, visit www.willpowermethod.com.

Published by The Voice of Mono County, in the Feb., 2012 edition.

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