I have written at least a couple of dozen blogs since my last entry many moons ago. And they are all in my head! Time to put thoughts on a computer.
At this very moment, I am semi-reclined with my left foot elevated and iced following surgery a week ago. My hapless disregard for the health of my left foot over the years allowed a debilitating hallux valgus (a.k.a. bunion) and hammer toe to progress and require surgery.
There is some controversy as to the origin of bunions. According to researchers who examined over 2,400 adults from the Framingham Foot Study, significant heritability of bunions was found. This study claims to be the first findings of heritability of foot disorders in humans. I am not convinced.
Although I am only a study of one, my experience over the years goes like this: Commit the time and effort to manually flexing and stretching each individual toe downward toward the sole of the foot – repetitively and daily. Include ankle and foot joint mobility, and lower leg flexibility and strength exercises. With consistent, daily, repetitive movement, I enjoyed happy, painless feet.
But life gets busy, right? And there is only so much time I have to commit to my daily fitness program. 45 minutes on my toes took a back seat over the years. And, of course, there are my shoes (including my running shoes). I thought I chose well, picking a running shoe with a wide toe box to accommodate my developing bunion. According to Dr. Ray McClanahan, Podiatrist at Northwest Foot and Ankle in Portland, Oregon, our rigid footwear is the culprit.
Industrialized world footwear elevates the heel above the ball of the foot, bends the toes upward (known as toe spring), and squeezes the toes together. Over time, this deforms the foot, leading to a host of foot problems, gait abnormalities, and musculoskeletal pathologies. My path to the operating room was a sliding slope of my negligence and need for further education on foot health.
In Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet, Katy Bowman clearly highlights that we need to know and love our feet if we wish to enjoy our golden years as mobile and independent individuals. In order for the entire body to function optimally, we must embrace the idea that we have to move more AND move better. Here are a few movements I will include in my (future) daily foot care from Katy’s book:
- Holding hands with my feet! Interlace my opposite hand to surgical foot, gently spreading and stretching the tissues between my toes. Lots of full deep breaths! Always supportive.
- Stretching the gripping muscles. Starting with toenails, lay down the top of my foot behind me, keeping my heel centered. Increase the stretch, when possible, by straightening my back knee and reaching back (extending) from my hip.
Since everything north of the foot is influenced and affected by it, I will also include the following Yoga Tune Up® exercises developed by Jill Miller, creator of YTU®:
- Knee to Chest with Abdominal Crunch
- 1/2 Happy Baby Minivini
- Leg Stretch 1, 2, and 3
- Eagle Sprinkler Legs
Truth be told, I am getting a bit punchy with all this immobility required for surgical recuperation! So, as of 2 days ago, I gingerly began to include these YTU® movements as part of my rehab. (Was ever so meticulous NOT to bump my surgical foot!) It feels terrific! And I know it is the beginning of enlightening my whole body of prime movement patterns moving forward!