Turn your feet on!
Feet! One of the most overlooked body parts and yet they do sooooo much for us. Consider an athlete (for the sake of this article I'm not talking about para-athletes) who can run and jump with seeming ease, while another who to all intents and purposes looks to have a similar build and has gone through essentially the same training, but looks laboured in trying to produce the same movements as the first athlete. The only difference is that the first athlete spent a considerable amount of time barefoot as he grew up and the second spent a lot of time in shoes. How significant could something like that be?
I would argue that it was very significant. Why? Simple. The first athlete who spent time barefoot got the benefits of learning how to produce force and tension through their feet to help drive and propel them forward in other words used their feet to help develop their athleticism.
I think it's worth mentioning here that if you do spend a lot of time barefoot you should spend a lot of time doing foot and ankle strengthening work, but I'll come back to that in a bit.
Over the past few months there has been a lot of chatter on social media about correcting flat feet. Let's stop there and clear this up. Most of the posts have been mistakenly trying to fix flat feet as opposed to collapsed arches. What's the difference? People of African descent (that includes Caribbean and African Americans) are genetically predisposed to having flat feet, but not necessarily collapsed arches.
I'll use myself as an example here:
I grew up and spent a lot of my time barefoot, running and jumping, especially athletics meets. Learning how to run properly and produce force without shoes has served me well into my adult life, allowing me to stay relatively athletic.
I'm still able to run fairly well, and jump high enough to touch a 3m basketball hoop. By the way I still have flat feet, but I'm still able to create tension through my body all the way from my feet.
So, let's look at collapsed or fallen arches.
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of fallen arches. These factors include the following: Genetic abnormalities; Torn or stretched tendons; Damage to the posterior tibial tendon; Bone fractures; Dislocation of bones; Nerve damage; Rheumatoid arthritis; and Other medical conditions. In addition, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing fallen arches. These risk factors include: Diabetes; Pregnancy; Obesity; and Aging. What Are the Symptoms of Fallen Arches? Some people have fallen arches, and they aren’t even aware of it; fallen arches are sometimes asymptomatic and do not always cause pain. However, for others, the following symptoms may be present: Foot pain, particularly in the arches or heels; Leg or back pain; Feet feel tired quickly; Swelling in the feet; and Difficulty moving the feet. What Are the Treatment Options for Fallen Arches? If you have fallen arches, but you are not experiencing any symptoms, then you probably do not need to seek treatment. If you are experiencing discomfort due to fallen arches, there are several treatment options. These treatment options include: Elevating the feet and applying ice to ease discomfort and reduce swelling; Rest; Exercises to stretch and strengthen the feet (see below); Physical therapy; Medication, such as anti-inflammatories; Steroid injection
Foot and ankle strengthening drills