The Foot & Ankle: Addressing the Root Cause of Pain

The Foot & Ankle: Addressing the Root Cause of Pain

Our feet might be the most cared for part of our body. We buy special shoes or inserts to protect them. We get pedicures and foot massages. Yet, foot and ankle pain is more prevalent today than ever before.

With all the advances in medicine and footwear, how could that be?

Well, let’s start by considering how our feet are designed to look. The feet below have never worn shoes.

The toes fan out, getting wider as they extend from the ball of the foot, and they rest in an extended position rather than curled under.  This gives the foot extra surface area to detect and respond to changes in terrain. It also increases the distribution of force and load across a wider area.

For most of us, who spend day after day wearing shoes of one type or another, our feet and toes no longer resemble these images.


Shoes or No Shoes?

So, is the solution to our foot pain as simple as returning to the barefoot existence of our youth? Well, not exactly. Not only is that impractical, but it is only half of the solution.

Sure, we are designed to walk and run barefoot, but for most of us, doing so would quickly result in pain and injury. Why? Because most of us have lost the biomechanics and function necessary to support our movement without extra cushioning or correction from our shoes.

Existing in a barefoot environment places unique demands on the bones and muscles of the foot. The foot responds to these demands, adapting in both shape and strength, to accomplish the task at hand. Shoes eliminate some of this demand, reducing the body’s need to invest the work and resources necessary to maintain the foot’s strength and integrity.

The Larger Problem

Shoes are only the first piece of the puzzle. We were designed perfectly, but movement is required to maintain our functional design. We exist in a world that is increasingly devoid of movement, leaving our muscles thirsting for the work necessary to maintain proper function.

Without an ongoing demand for movement and function, we develop more and more imbalances in muscles, strength, and flexibility that not only limit our movement even more, but also increase our susceptibility to pain and injury.

The Solution

Here’s the good news. Restore the demand for movement, strength, and integrity and the body will respond by reinvesting the valuable resources necessary to restore muscle function and our perfect design.

Doing so will go a long way to reducing the prevalence of foot pain and injury. Walking around barefoot from time to time is a great start. Walking around barefoot with a more balanced, functional body after doing your Egoscue menu is even better!

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