If for some odd reason you were ever in a situation where you needed to defend the importance of feet, you’d have quite a case. Though the average person spends an average of 7.7 hours a day sitting, much of our daily routines are spent on our feet, going about life. From climbing stairs at the office to running at the gym, your feet are always along for the ride, hence the 8,000 to 10,000 steps they generate during the course of any given day..
As a trusty means of constant transportation, feet — when not properly cared for — are bound to weaken with time. Unbeknownst to many are the ways in which we, oddly enough, quicken the process of foot destruction on a daily basis, without even knowing it.
1) Lack of Weight Maintenance
Let’s face it: America has a weight problem. We’ve always known this. Even though Mexico currently takes the crown as the world’s most obese nation, the U.S. has always struggled to keep its weight in check. With more than considered clinically obese, American feet have quite a load to carry. They’re not handling it well.
As carrying capacities increase, feet become subject to harmful conditions like tendon inflammation and osteoarthritis. It’s no wonder that 75 percent of Americans will experience some sort of foot-related issue during their respective lifetimes.
2) Sudden Bursts of Physical Activity
For those who struggle to maintain an appropriate weight, consider gradual changes in physical activity. Contrary to what many so-called fitness “experts” might claim, an abrupt intensification isn’t necessarily the key to sound foot and body health. It can be detrimental.
Instead, opt for low-impact exercises such as swimming, water aerobics and yoga as excellent anaerobic means for minimizing foot damage while keeping active.
3) Going Barefoot On Hard, Unforgiving Surfaces
The 1,502 official members of — hailing from 63 global nations and 51 U.S. states and territories — might have an issue with this, but that doesn’t change truth of the matter: going barefoot isn’t always best. When walking over solid surfaces, it can be downright risky.
Said Phil Vasyli, professional podiatrist and founder of Orthaheel, to , “Our footprint allows the natural ground to accommodate the contours of our feet. The softer ground gives way to our heel at foot strike, allowing the outside of the foot to sink into the surface, which correspondingly supports the inside of our foot and the collapse of our arch.”
Such a scenario is compromised with hardwood floors, sidewalks and kitchen tile. In order to avoid the most typical of foot annoyances — common aches and heel pain — as annoying as it sounds, wear shoes for the majority of the day, whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Additionally, experiment with different shoe inserts or ask your local podiatrist about customized orthopedic options.
4) Not Giving Proper Attention to Calves
Have you ever noticed that even the unfit and overweight often have strong-looking calf muscles? That’s because those muscles are constantly at work. Regardless of whether or not body weight is an issue for you, there’s a strong link between the feet and calves that can’t go unnoticed.
Take care of both nagging foot and lower leg pain by simply stretching your calves throughout the day. For example, the next time you climb a set of stairs, pause for a brief moment atop a step to stretch your calf muscles.
5) Imprudent Footwear: Flip Flops, Slippers and Ballet Flats
Just because something feels comfortable, doesn’t mean that it’s doing your feet any favors. Flip flops, for instance, employ a non-supportive, “spongy” material which is often touted as optimum for foot shock absorption. The reality of the situation is that — for the alleviation of foot pain — nothing is more beneficial than supportive footwear. Bottom line: cushion isn’t everything.
Softer insoles, while enjoyable, cause feet to roll inwards beyond what’s acceptable, forcing the foot to push off almost entirely from the big toe. As a result, heel pain, knee pain, lower back pain, shin splints, plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis occur.
The following infographic, produced by , provides further evidence as to why thorough foot health is of the utmost importance.
Needless to say, feet are key to a peaceful, gratifying lifestyle. Wherever you are on your 150,000 mile journey, keeping feet happy and healthy is paramount.
is a young, health-conscious college student at Brigham Young University. When not writing, running or studying, he’s working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World’s Greatest Pompadour.”