…and what you can do about it.
In this video, the gentleman speaks a bit about the biomechanics of walking and how shoes from the middle ages allowed a more natural gait that was better for our health. I speak about how bad shoes are in class all the time. People are not meant to wear shoes with thick heals, and when we do, it effects our posture and thus our health! The gentleman in the video mostly focuses on the biomechanics aspect but he does mention posture toward the end.
Each foot has 28 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. These are supposed to move and be stressed on a daily basis and when functioning properly they work together to provide support, balance and mobility. When we weaken these structures by wearing shoes and not allowing them to be stressed in a good way, they can no longer do their job of balancing and supporting our bodies. Thus balancing poses become difficult if not impossible.
We also have many nerve endings in our feet, that when stimulated help stimulate our brain function and encourage brain health. You don’t get that with shoes that don’t let you feel the ground you walk on.
So what can you do about it? Well happily, the footwear industry is beginning to provide options for those who want to ‘work their feet’. If you do a search for “minimal footwear” or “barefoot running” you will find several companies that produce footwear that allow your feet to move as they should and perhaps even allow you to feel the ground. These are not the best looking or most comfortable shoes to wear by any means, but as many of you have heard me say in class… COMFORT KILLS!!!
Once you get off the beaten path by ordering your funny looking ‘zero drop’ minimal footwear it helps to take them off the beaten path, literally. Humans did not wear shoes nor did they walk on flat paved surfaces. Find some tree roots and stones to walk over to articulate the bones and joints in your feet. These will also work the muscles in the lower leg that have gotten weak from lack of use, just as the gentleman in the video mentions.
So why does any of this matter? So what if my posture is bad? My mother has been telling me that since I was 13. So what if I can’t balance on one leg? I’m not a gymnast or dancer. Well here are a few eye opening facts.
When we hold our head in front of our shoulders at just a 15 degree angle it adds 27 pounds of pressure to your spine. This increases with the angle until at a 60 degree angle you end up with 60 degrees of added pressure to your poor spine! Many of you have heard me say how 80 percent of Americans will end up with a back problem, and often its chronic. In my opinion, it’s these seemingly small things that eventually add up and make having a “good back” as we age so hard.
Another eye opening fact is that once you are over the age of 70 falling and breaking a hip, which is very common for people in this age group, is a better predictor of death within the next two years than getting diagnosed with terminal cancer. We need to be able to control and manage our own body weight at any age if we want to be vital and healthy.
What I find encouraging about what I have learned from studying yoga and human movement is how much we can influence our health and the way we age and even our overall happiness just by altering a few lifestyle choices.