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 moves should be practiced along with safely transitioning to minimal footwear to set your feet up to be as healthy as they can be.
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.
You can start a practice of doing these restorative moves every day. A good place to get you going is to start with a commitment to at least doing your favorite one or two moves. Eventually, you will want to make time to practice all the moves, even the ones you don’t like. The reason you don’t like them is possibly because they are the hardest for you to do, and therefore probably the ones your feet are the most deficient in.
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. Until then, these restorative moves are a good way to both evaluate and transform the health of your feet. You can work on creating a fun, sustainable practice of doing these moves for a few minutes every day. If you need help, you can work 1:1 with me or another Restorative Exercise Specialist.