In the previous post, I explained that our western culture has had a direct impact on our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. This impact has created limitations, primarily in our feet, our pelvises, our diaphragms and our hearts. Each of these forms a “layer” of organic structure upon which the layers above it rest—and to which they respond.
Today, I would like to focus on our feet, and how they’re directly linked to our overall health. Think of your body as being like a building. Your feet are the foundation. They support your entire body. If your feet are weak, the rest of your body will be compromised.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that binds its member’s feet, particularly their toes, by the use of shoes. We begin doing this at a young age, long before the feet have developed competent form and movement. This causes a variety of physical, and even emotional, problems. Few shoes are even moderately ergonomic; even those, usually have a semi-rigid sole that restrains some of the natural movement of the feet. The resulting physical problems are not limited to the feet, but may be seen anywhere in the body that is dependent on suitable movement and support from the feet.
Most shoes are like old-fashioned corsets. Both deform the body in the name of fashion and custom. Shoes distort the feet and their movements three ways:
1.Shoes bind the toes, preventing the natural spreading and reaching movement of the toes.
2. Shoes raise the heel artificially, creating an inclined plane upon which people stand. This displaces one’s weight forward, putting too much weight on the front of the feet, and changing one’s entire posture.
3. Shoes prevent complex and subtle movements and sensations of the feet. This is because the semi-rigid sole of the shoe transforms three dimensional walking surfaces into two dimensional walking surfaces. The foot responds to this flat surface in an overly simple manner, and so loses its ability to move articulately.
Wearing most shoes causes another serious loss. Shoes reduce your ability to ground (to draw energy from the earth into yourself). This is made worse as weak feet limit the amount of energy intake from the earth into the body, as the natural and healthy movements of feet, act like an energy pump. This is disastrous for anyone who wants to feel good and live an active life. Reduced grounding causes an effect like reduced rate of gasoline flow into a car’s motor.
As if these results of poorly designed shoes were not enough, there are two more problems. By raising the heel above the rest of the foot, the entire body becomes slightly misaligned. You can easily see this in the lower back. The belly pushes forward, while the buttocks move back and up, leaving the spine with an exaggerated lumbar curve. In addition, to compensate for the raised heel, the foot must walk unnaturally. It does this by an overly-forceful heel strike and an overly-simplified walking movement.
Watching barefoot indigenous people, one sees little or no heel strike followed by a spreading and extending of the toes, which then push off powerfully with each step. When the toes push off as a principal part of walking, the upper leg does far less work.
The healthy and functional feet of people from barefoot societies look different than ours. They are broader across the toes, and their structure is more pronounced, as they are more well developed. Our feet are soft and under-formed, by comparison, like large infant’s feet.
Although this may sound hopeless, it’s not. We can actively and intentionally choose to change these patterns of limitation. If you work at developing only your feet, you will improve everything in your body, as your entire body rests upon your feet.
Try either, or both of these simple exercises today:
- Go to a grassy or sandy place and walk barefoot for a few minutes. Pay close attention to the movements and sensations of your feet. Try not to look down at your feet (this will alter your posture). As you walk, use words to describe the positions and sensations of your feet. Afterwards, describe the effects barefoot walking had on your upper body. What was your emotional response to walking barefoot?
- Give the tops and bottoms of your feet a good massage.
To your health and happiness,
For additional exercises and support to help rehabilitate your feet, click here.