Changing which shoes you wear to provide your feet with a more natural habitat is one of the most effective ways to help your feet work more naturally and create less injury. When you give your feet the opportunity to move naturally by removing the cast-effect of shoes, every step you take will count towards better foot health. However, just like taking a zoo animal and releasing it into the wild, your feet might not be able to completely fend for themselves unless they get some training first. The following exercises and ideas can help you restore movement to your feet and assist in your transition toward using more minimal footwear.
FOOT MASSAGE: Massage is a powerful way to get more in tune with the health of your feet and start waking up the tissues of the feet to prepare them for more movement in a gentle, safe manner.
ANKLE AND FOOT ROM: Exploring a joint’s available Range of Motion (ROM) allows you to both assess your current mobility and strengthen the muscles around the joint, promoting a healthier balance of tension stabilizing the area.
MOBILIZATION WITH A BALL: Almost another form of foot massage, rolling your foot on a ball, rock, or other object helps prepare your feet for encountering wild terrain—not just smooth, flat surfaces.
TOE MOVES: Being able to move your toes on their own will both improve the health of your feet—reducing the likelihood of developing bunions, neuromas, and other issues—as well as strengthen your feet so they can eventually operate without the crutches (shoes) they are used to.
WALK BAREFOOT: A pleasurable experience and a whole-body nourishment in one lovely activity. From strolling on the beach to hanging out at home, anytime you choose to be barefoot instead of wearing shoes, you are giving your feet more opportunity to strengthen their muscles, articulate their joints, and reinforce nerve connections—overall, keeping every part of your feet alive and kicking.
Eventually, you could get to the point where you are spending enough time going barefoot over a variety of terrain that that is enough to maintain your foot strength and dexterity. Many of us, however, will continue to either be required by our occupations or choose to live a lifestyle that keeps us in shoes and on smooth, even terrain much of the time. In that case, restorative moves like these can help supplement the everyday movement diet of our feet. You can work on creating a fun, sustainable practice of doing these moves for a few minutes every day.