Neel Chandarana is a physiotherapist who obtained his master's degree from McGill University. In addition to sharing his passion for health and physical activity, his goal is to help people improve th...
Foot health is an essential but often forgotten component of physical health. Our feet have to provide a strong and stable base for the rest of the body, and dysfunctions at the base can lead to problems at the knees, hips, and back.
Over the years, humans transitioned from living barefoot to wearing shoes. Shoes have changed a lot over the years but today's conventional shoes tend to have a lot of features such as a raised heel, supportive arches, a cushioned sole, a narrow toe-box, and a rigid frame.
Contrary to popular belief, these conventional shoes are not what is best for our feet.
First, the support and cushion provided by shoes take over the functions of your foot muscles. Since the foot muscles are less solicited, they will eventually become weaker, and a weaker foot is more prone to injuries. This can also contribute to flat feet, which is often due to weak musculature. Spending time barefoot is a good way to stimulate your musculature and improve foot strength.
Second, thick and cushioned shoes reduce foot proprioception. Proprioception is the awareness of how our body is positioned and moving in space. It is essential for balance, stability, and proper movement. Shoes create a barrier between the sensory receptors within our feet and the ground, which limits the amount of information sent to the brain. Spending time barefoot is ideal to stimulate improve foot proprioception.
Third, conventional footwear is often not adapted to foot anatomy and compresses the feet. By compressing the feet and toes, shoes restrict the natural movements that normally occur within the foot, and this may lead to stiffness. Improperly fitted shoe wear may also cause bunions, hammertoes and other foot deformity. Spending time barefoot allows your feet to move freely.
For all these reasons, try to incorporate more barefoot time during your day. Another thing you can do is when purchasing shoes, aim for something that is flat, wide, flexible, and thin-soled. This will better allow your feet to work the way they are designed to.
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