No matter if you are training for a marathon, your first bodybuilding competition, you are trying to lose weight, or just everyday health, one of the best things you can do is start taking better care of your feet.
Yes, your feet. They are a central part in everything we do. From getting us from one destination to the other, to driving, to stabilizing us, to absorbing nutrients, to being the vessel to get us moving, your feet are an amazing part of your anatomy.
Your feet-specifically the bottoms of your feet are especially vulnerable to a number of ailments due to how often we use them per day. Think about it, if the national goal for steps per day are 10,000, which is equivalent to about 5 miles, that is 70,000 steps a week and 3.6 million steps a year. Over our lifetime we will have taken well over 200 MILLION steps.
Now think about your footwear. If you are wearing heels, non supportive steel-toed boots, too tight tennis shoes, etc, that will add up to some problems over time.
The bottoms of our feet actually start a long line of connective tissue that runs up our entire posterior chain and ends at the back of our skulls. The posterior chain is everything in the back of our body, and believe it or not everything is connected. Your neck, your back, your glutes, your hamstrings, your calves, your achilles-all connected. That means if there is something going wrong in that chain, the other parts of the posterior chain will feel the effects.
For me personally, I have always had incredibly tight hamstrings, because of this I will often have a tight or stiff back. When I was younger it was so bad that I was never able to reach down and touch my toes until a few years ago. I got some great advice from a massage therapist named Scott Stearns who worked on me for about 90 minutes and after my session with him, he was was miraculously able to release my fascia enough for me to reach down and touch my toes. I was astonished, but I was more astonished with his advice on how to keep this flexibility, “Roll the bottoms of your feet, over and over again.”
Admittedly, at the time, I heard him but didn’t follow his directions, and sure enough I slowly returned to not being able to touch my toes, and then slowly wasn’t able to get close. I was mad at myself for not taking his advice seriously and started to work on my feet again.
*But seriously though, although Scott’s massages aren’t what I call peaceful, he does an incredible job of getting my body to a point of neutral, and is a fantastic masseuse for the active person. Look him up he’s incredible!*
Some ailments commonly linked with tight fascia on the bottom of your feet?
Inflexibility especially in the posterior muscles
Toes that fold or wander right or left
Chronic stiff lower back
How do we improve this?
The best $8.00 I’ve ever spent was on a product from Earth Therapeutics that is designed to massage the bottom of your feet.
If you are just starting out, this will be a painful process (but necessary, I assure you). So I would suggest starting with a tennis ball. They are usually really cheap from your local store and are a lot softer than the wood massager.
Start with a few minutes on each foot, and rest the tennis ball or the wooden massager on the sore spots. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if you have a sore spot, it means you have a bundle of nerves that have to get released, so the more it is sore, the more you need to focus on that spot. My sore spots are in the soles of my feet, and down towards my heel. So I spend a lot more time in these two spots.
To start, try rolling your feet out 2-3 times a week for about 2 minutes on each foot, and then work your way up to rolling out your feet everyday at the end of each day for 5-8 minutes each foot. I usually do this right before bed. This ensures you will be given ample time to recover from your rolling, and will be giving enough rest to start the repair process.
It sounds simple, and it sounds easy, but the process of rolling the bottoms of your feet out is crucial to your overall health. Like I said, you will take well over 200 million steps in your lifetime if you are lucky, so you must take care of the anatomy that gets you there.
This is also an easy way to get your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend or family member to rub your feet and tell them it’s critical to your health. Make sure you mention your trainer said so!
As always, keep working hard!
Megan Williams Training