Did you know that your foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments - all of which work together to provide us with support, balance and mobility. Our feet are the foundation that carries our body along with its weight throughout each day. A big problem that our feet are faced with is a simple one. Shoes. Something we are pretty much required to wear everyday, especially during the winter months here in Alberta. And the problem that shoes cause, is that our feet and toes aren’t made to be scrunched up into the narrow end of a shoe all day… They are supposed to be free, wiggling and providing our bodies with a strong, stable foundation! Below is a little bit more about our feet and why we think they deserve some extra attention.
There are three main parts to the foot - the anklebones (tarsals), the middle bones felt on the top of the feet (metatarsals), and the toe bones (calcaneus).
The ankle moves in two directions. 1. Plantar flexion - when you point your toes forward and down (like a ballerina) and 2. Dorsiflexion - having your feet in natural position with your toes pointing upwards.
The middle foot also moves in two directions. Except these directions are laterally for when your body shifts side to side.
The toes can do four moves. They can 1. Flex (bend) - when you scrunch up a towel with only your toes, 2. Extend (straighten) - when you go onto your tip toes, 3. Abduct - when you splay your toes out (something we almost never do), and 4. Adduct - when your squeeze your toes together (like being squeezed into a narrow shoe all day).
Underneath the foot, is where you find the plantar fascia. This is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue on the bottom of your foot that runs from your heel to the base of your toes. This along with other ligaments and tendons supports the arches and acts as a “shock absorber” when you run or jump.
We don’t use our feet or toes like we use our hands or our fingers unless we are used to walking around barefoot all day. As a result, the strength and mobility in our toes become limited, individual toe movements become weak and therefore, the toes don’t act like they are supposed to! Strong feet and toes lead to more muscle movement and stronger upward joints (knees, hips and back). Dexterity in toes is important because it supports better balance and helps stabilize the entire body. If your big toe is misaligned, it will affect your gait, balance and performance. Luckily there is a tool out there to help you stretch and strengthen your toes with no extra work. Let me introduce you to Toe Spacers.
You might be thinking these things look funny and uncomfortable but let me explain how they work. Toes spacers help realign your toes to the natural shape of the foot. By doing that, they also cause muscles to stretch, strengthen the mobility while improving your stability and posture. Using toe spaces along with proper foot training will lead to better stability in yoga balances, pain free runs, deeper squats and stronger jumps! They also help and support common foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis, bunion, hammertoes or overlapping toes. Hopefully this little crash course on feet has taught you a little bit about your feet, toes and the important role they play everyday. Let’s get those feet working to their full potential!
- Kokoro and Jade Team