Ditch the footwear.
I don't know about you but I've adopted plenty of new skills during lockdown: virtual pub quiz expertise, banana bread baking prowess and a worrying tolerance to wine. Simultaneously, from foundation to my bra, I've also parted ways with many facets of my 'past life'. I also can't remember the last time I wore shoes (other than trainers on my daily
run walk) and according to a posture expert I've been working with, it's one of the more fruitful decisions I've (subconsciously) made.
"You’re probably finding that since lockdown has begun, you’ve spent a significantly reduced amount of time wearing shoes," explains Postural Alignment Therapist, Posture Ellie (@posture.ellie). "Whilst lockdown may have had negative effects on other parts of your body (we’ve been more housebound so there’s likely to be a few more creaky backs, hips and shoulders out there), there may be some surprising benefits to your new barefoot lifestyle."
Explaining the logic behind her theory, Ellie continues: “If I had to give one tip to any parent, it would be to keep their children out of shoes for as long as possible and then, only put them on for the minimum amount possible. I help client after client who have issues with pain all over their bodies, stemming from feet that have fallen asleep.
“It is common sense that, if we were to put restrictive mittens on our hands from a young age for most of the day, we wouldn’t be stimulating all the muscles in our hands as we grew up and we would have very weak, stiff hands.
"For some reason, this is the accepted norm when it comes to our feet.”
Home to thirty three joints and a quarter of all the bones in the human body, our feet are wrapped up and often forgotten about for our entire lives. Fashion within the last 50 years has dictated that cushioning, arch support and heels are needed to prop up our feet. This artificial support teaches the feet to become lazier and lazier and as someone with a penchant for Chelsea boots and Bottega Veneta stilettos, I am certainly guilty.
"You know how your bum gets flat if you sit on a comfy, cushioned chair all day? The same thing is happening every time you prop your feet up in comfy, cushioned shoes all day," explains Ellie.
“Fluffy trainers are my least favourite of the heeled shoe genre, as people don’t realise they are wearing wobbly heels whilst dramatically increasing the load through their body during exercise.”
According to Ellie, lazy feet = weak foundations. "If your foundations are weak, the way in which your body interacts with the ground is unstable and the biomechanics of your entire body are off. Working on foot strength and mobility will have a positive impact on how the whole of your body feels and moves."
Ellie believes that now that our lockdown feet are having the chance to breathe, some people may have found new muscles waking up in your feet, calves, hips and glutes. How? Because without your shoes, our feet can move better, the toes can splay (you’re not wearing shoes that squish them into triangular points), they are working hard and new muscles are switching on. This feeds all the way up your legs and into your pelvic area. When your pelvis holds itself better, your spine can then hold itself better, your shoulders can then hold themselves better and your neck can then hold itself better. It's a win-win.
"The body works as a unit and, when it comes to bipedal humans, it all starts at the feet and how they interact with the ground," she continues.
You might ask the question, if shoes can do it for me, why would I bother teaching my feet to be strong? “I appreciate that wearing supportive shoes is the easier way but, as I mentioned earlier, your weak feet can have ramifications all over your body and you might not even know it. If you don’t try to strengthen and mobilise your feet, you don’t realise how amazing your body could feel!”
“Whilst it’s always my aim to get the majority of my clients with strong enough feet and strong enough hips to cope with barefoot shoes like Vivo Barefoot (many describing this transition as life-changing overnight), there are some people that take a while to comfortably transition into a more minimalistic shoe. Dysfunctional feet will feel the ramifications of not being propped up with artificial support, so some people will need guidance to help them through this transitional stage and it’s always a case of slowly easing the person into longer and longer barefoot stints, just like you’d slowly build up your mileage whilst training for a marathon.”
Want to get to work strengthening your feet? Posture Ellie has plenty of videos on her YouTube channel to help people get started with strengthening their feet and thinking about how their feet and hips work in tandem together.
This article was originally published on GLAMOUR UK