Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, achilles pain, the always fun “top of the foot” pain, side of the shin pain – there are so many ways your feet and toes can become injured.
Does that mean that feet and toes are fragile and prone to injury?
The way most people go about dealing with injuries and pain in the feet is all wrong.
Those folks don’t take action until they feel a gnawing ache in their foot, or a sharp pain in their heel, or a deep throb in the top of their foot.
Then, they bring an external support in – like shoe insoles, k-tape, or ibuprofen – to try and solve the problem.
But they will not work in any long-term, lasting capacity. Why?
Here are two things you must focus on if you want to start solving your foot issues, and all of them work on your internal stuff – no braces or insoles here.
Improve the quality of your soft tissue.
If your soft tissue loses its pliability, you’re going to have a hard time moving it. Your skin, fascia, muscles, ligaments, and tendons all need to be capable of moving, stretching, and flexing. If your soft tissue can’t move well, your bones will have a hard time moving they way they are meant to.
The reverse is true too. If your joints can’t move the way they are meant to, your skin, fascia, muscles, ligaments, and tendons will have a hard time staying supple and move-able.
Once per day, remove your shoes and socks, and massage your feet with your hands. Use your thumbs and fingers to press into the bottoms and tops of feet, and notice where it feels tender or pinchy as you do so.
In addition to using your hands to massage your feet, you can also use lacrosse balls, dowel rods, edges of coffee tables (for those of you who put your feet up on the coffee table) 😉 to help your soft tissue become more pliable.
Just by pressing into your feet with your hands, you send signals to the cells that make up your soft tissue. Dr. Andreo Spina, creator of the FRC and FR systems, and someone whose knowledge has enhanced my coaching, said it so eloquently:
Soft tissue work is NOT:
– breaking up “Scar tissue” or “adhesions”
– making “tight” muscles “loose”
– making “short” muscles “long”
– as simple as smashing tissue with a blunt object
Soft tissue work is a dialogue between the treating practitioners hands and the cells that make up the tissues said hands are contacting. The language being used is force (Force is the language of cells)…and the message/suggestion, when applied properly, and specifically, can influence the tissues ongoing remolding process.
Pliable soft tissue is only one step though.
In order to actually improve the health of your foot (or any part of your body), you must use the new pliability you’re creating.
Which brings us to focus point number two…
Move your foot, toes, and ankles through as much of their ranges of motion as possible – regularly.
When you don’t send the signal regularly that your foot should move, it won’t have any reason to maintain its ability to move. After you massage your feet, start exploring movement with your toes, your foot, and your ankle.
Old-school passive stretches are the old way. A smarter way to gain usable mobility in your feet and ankles is to perform drills that include your nervous system in the process of increasing the joint’s range of motion.
Here’s two examples of how your drills that help your foot start moving more like a foot.
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