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Spend More Time Barefoot

We are all born with the working parts for perfect alignment. Unfortunately, most people (including myself) do not have it.

After diving into Katy Bowman’s “Alignment Matters,” I have somewhat shifted my view on what ‘healthy’ really means. We tend to think of heath in terms of diseases and/or fitness level. However, what if I told you that someone with plantar fasciitis or chronic low back pain is just as unhealthy as someone with high blood pressure or someone who is sedentary? We tend to blame the former two on age and genetics, but maybe these ailments are more controllable than we think.

To reiterate, we are all born with a body that is meant to be in a particular alignment and move in specific, natural ways. Unfortunately, this gets jacked up by modern ways and habits. One of these many ways is wearing the wrong shoes…and/or wearing shoes too often.

According to da Vinci, “the human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Twenty five percent of the muscles and bones in the body are in the feet, and the foot has 33 joints in each…allowing for zillions of different foot positions. Unfortunately, we live in world where shoes are necessary for protection against hard surfaces and biohazards, preventing the human foot from doing what it does best - serving as the foundation to bear and distribute our weight the way is it supposed to.

When we wear shoes, particularly shoes with a lift or heel, this balance is thrown out of whack. For every inch of heel, there is 20 degrees of joint reaction. This means that every time you slip on your regular old cross trainers, your weight automatically shifts forward, causing the rest of your joints up the chain (knees, hips, and above) to compensate for this lift. Over time, the end result most commonly results in some sort of joint pain.

The good news is, there is a way out. Instead of trying to put bandaids on these issues by seeking out inserts and fancy shoes, let’s fix the foundation first. Try spending a little bit more time in your bare feet. Stretch your toes out (it will feel good after being jammed into small toe boxes for most of your life) and point your feet forward when you walk and stand. From here, shift your hips so they stack directly over your knee and ankle joints and pull your belly button up and in so that your ribcage is stacked above your pelvis. Then, pull your shoulder blades down and back and finally tuck your chin in.

Now stand here for a minute and allow your body to feel this. Actively get yourself to this position as much as possible until it becomes second nature. You may be surprised how much we can delay “age and genetics.”

For more information on this topic (from a real expert), check out Katy Bowman’s blog “Katy Says” or her book “Alignment Matters.” A must read for everyone!

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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