Let me start out by saying that kids are just small adults in many ways so things that are good for kids are also good for adults for the most part. Let's think of some -- naps? learning how to use the toilet? brushing teeth? having a pet rock? getting your taxes done on time?
OK, obviously there are things that don't go both ways, but hopefully you see my point.
Let's talk about feet.
Did you know roughly 25% of your body's bones and muscles are all located BELOW THE ANKLE? Think about that. There are 430 skeletal muscles and 206 bones (more for tiny babies since they have some that will eventually fuse together).
A fourth of them...one quarter of them...one in four...25% of them are BELOW THE ANKLE. What does that tell us about the feet? There is a reason so much detail went into our foot design.
If something takes up a quarter of your investment portfolio, I'd say that was a pretty important investment. If you had to sit in a port-a-potty for one day out of every four, you'd feel like you were sitting in a port-a-potty most of your life. If you had four quarters, you'd have one dollar.
25% is a large chunk. Especially in such a small space.
Your feet are also contain some of the most nerve-dense tissue in the body. Your lips and hands are the other biggies.
You have as much motor skill (dexterity) potential in your feet than you do in your hands. Ever seen someone born with no arms playing the guitar or the piano? It happens -- google it. And they weren't blessed with amazing foot skills. They have just tapped into their foot skill potential because they have no other choice.
All that leading up to this point: if our feet are so important, then why do we enclose them in huge, cloddy barriers most of the time?
Your feet are where biomechanics starts. If you’re not on a proper foundation, the rest of the scaffolding (your skeletal and muscular system) won’t function at its potential and you’ll be riddled with joint issues and pain.
If I have to climb a ladder to the top of my roof, you can be dern sure that I’m making certain the ladder has both legs planted firmly in the firm ground and not sitting cockeyed or on a soft surface.
Maybe the reason so many of us adults are suffering from debilitating hip, knee, back, ankle, foot and low back pain is because the feet we’re standing on can’t handle the pressure. Which is sad because our feet WERE DESIGNED to handle a lifetime of standing, walking, running, and moving around. But as kids many of us were put into big, thick, heeled shoes which sends the wrong message to our brain about what our feet should be doing.
You know how you get strong bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints? YOU MOVE. You use the joints and bones and ligaments and your body responds by reinforcing the areas being used the most.
It’s common knowledge that astronauts in space come back to Earth with muscle and bone atrophy. Why?
Because the way your body makes more bone, muscle, and connective tissue is by strengthening the areas that are being used. Your brain is efficient and wired for survival. If something isn’t being used, it’s not going to waste precious resources on maintaining those things whether it be muscle tissue, tendons, ligaments, or memory.
Ever wonder why you ladies wearing high heels get those nasty calluses in weird places on the feet? It’s not because you’re a troll although some of you may be (JOKES!!).
It’s because your weight is being distributed in a place that it is not designed to be distributed and your poor body is trying to compensate and make that area stronger by building tissue. Then we go and cut off all the work our bodies are doing to try and help us.
If you sit hunched over all day and never open up your chest or shoulders, you’re going to have issues breathing fully and shoulder problems. Same goes for your feet.
ESPECIALLY KIDS FEET.
The same way kids need a solid nutritional foundation in order to set up a long, healthy, happy life, kids need a physical, literal solid foundation (i.e. their skeletal system) which starts with the feet.
So what are some things that you and your kids can start doing to help strengthen your feet?
- Go barefoot as much as humanly possible.
- Make the home a “shoe free zone” (socks are OK but the sensitive nerves on the bottoms of the feet need to be getting feedback from their surroundings and not just the inside of your socks or your kids footie pajamas).
- Wear these a few times a week for several minutes.
- If you can’t go barefoot try getting some no-heel or very small heel-drop shoes like Chuck Taylors, Bobux, swim shoes, ballet slippers (for your little princesses), NewBalance minimus, Vibram FiveFingers -- anything with a zero drop is best, but a near zero drop is OK to start off with.
- Practice identifying different objects with your feet without looking. Kids love this and is a great way to tap into that motor skill potential that we were born with.
- Roll a golf or lacrosse ball under your feet whenever you can -- helps break up fascial tissue adhesions.
- Walk -- preferably with a zero drop shoe or barefoot if possible.
- Walk a lot.
- Walk some more.
- Stand a lot.
Your feet are important. Start giving them the attention and treatment they deserve and pick one or two of the things listed above to start trying out. 25% of your muscles and bones will thank you for it.