I love my feet!
I often think about my feet and any camper who has run Tabor with me has heard me say, “I am grateful for my feet.”
And I am honestly and truly grateful for them.
Some of you will recall when I injured my right foot while running – when I stepped on a pinecone last November – and how that took me away from running for weeks – which was intensely difficult for me. I injured that same foot 25 years ago and because of that original injury, my foot is forever susceptible to re-injury in that same area. Upon my return to Tabor, I again was so very grateful for my feet and everyday I am glad that my feet are just fine. I will even think to myself, “I am so glad my feet are not hurting today.”
Seeing Coach Daniel’s video from AM Northwest today inspired me to write about feet. The segment began with Daniel teaching Dave about daily foot care – writing the alphabet with our feet each morning followed by rolling each foot on a dowel helps to warm up our muscles that we will use all day long. How important it is to start our morning warm-up routine with the part of our body that is the first thing to hit the floor after sleeping several hours.
Feet are so important – really, just think about it – they help us do so many things that we often take for granted, like walking. The ability to move our body where we want it to go is so much easier when our feet are being good to us.
But when our feet start to hurt or we get injured, then our feet become an issue. Anyone who has dealt with plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of foot pain, knows how feet can become a real pain in the…well, foot, if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis. There are many other causes of foot pain as well that include issues with muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and the pain can be in the ball, the arch, the heel, the toe joints and so on.
No matter where someone feels foot pain, it will affect your day-to-day routines. Injuries should be promptly attended to with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and a visit with your Health Care Provider if symptoms persist.
Being a runner and a fitness coach, lots of people ask me about shoes. People wonder what should they be wearing? Neutral, stability or motion control running shoes? Minimalist shoes? Trainers? Barefoot? What to do??
Honestly, what I have found for myself over the years is that you have to figure out what works for you and it will be a series of trial and error. There is no one right answer although we all wish there were.
Back in 2009, when Chris McDougall published Born to Run, barefoot and minimalist running really took off highlighted by amazing stories of the Tarahumara Mexican running tribe who run in sandals and a kooky character called Barefoot Ted. Since that time, there has been more research about barefoot and minimalist running and the NY Times recently published a great article, “Is Barefoot-Style Running Best? New Studies Cast Doubt” by Gretchen Reynolds about the more recent findings and the general conclusion is that you basically have to figure out what works for you.
If you are looking for a running shoe, go to one of the reputable running stores in town and have them really work with you to find a pair of shoes that fit and that you run comfortably in. If you take them home, run in them a few times and they are not working, bring them back to the store. My experience is they always give store credit and help you find another pair that works for you.Occasionally you will see me in the gym in my bare feet and wonder, if Mary is doing this, should I be doing this? And again, my answer is, you have to figure out what works for you.
I find for myself that I balance better when I am in my bare feet inside the gym and I even occasionally do some short sprinting in my bare feet, but you will not see me running barefoot when I am doing my outdoor running – I like my stability shoes and they have served me well over the years for my running and races.
One final thought – high heels…I rarely ever wear them. Mostly because I like to be in my running shoes, they feel the most comfortable to me and I like to run to get places quickly. And although they make our legs and feet look lovely, there is some real damage that can be done to feet from high heels. If you want more information about why feet do not thrive in high heels, here’s a good article from the Washington Post “High-heeled shoes may look good, but they’re bad for your feet” by Christina Ianzito.
So today, when you walk around your house, or run around the block, or jump rope at Boot Camp, take a moment and give thanks to your feet, they are working really hard for you and deserve a bit of praise!