The average person takes over 3.5 million steps per year, based on a 10,000 per day step count. For athletes, that number is likely far higher. Here’s another fun fact: over a lifetime, the average person walks about 100,000 miles!
When you put numbers to the work our feet do for us, you can really see how much we use them. We use our feet for just about everything we do, so it’s important to take care of them.
Unfortunately, we tend to kind of forget about our poor feet!
According to a 2014 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 77 percent of US adults over the age of 18 said they have experienced foot pain.
Keep reading to learn how to give your feet the care they need, particularly if you are an active person.
Why Good Foot Health Matters
Good foot health means wearing the right shoes, avoiding injuries, and caring for your feet like you do for other parts of your body.
At Lems, we design shoes that promote healthy feet, which ultimately leads to stronger muscles. Improper footwear can weaken ankle, leg, and hip muscles, leading to misalignment in our bones, which leads to injuries. It’s a bad cycle.
Good foot health goes a long way for your quality of life.
If you’ve ever had a foot injury that’s prevented you from participating in regular exercise, or that has even prevented you from walking, period, then you understand firsthand just how important good foot health is!
When you can’t exercise, your overall health in general goes down. Even if it’s just temporary, a short stint away from your regular routine can make it difficult to get back into the rhythm of a consistent workout.
The long term effects of sitting at the computer for eight hours a day or staring at our phones teaches our bodies to operate in a hunched position, leading to poor posture due to weak muscles and imbalances in the spine.
The feet support the weight of the entire body and absorb the shock of every step. If we settle into the habit of sitting and moving with poor posture, it can put unnecessary pressure on muscles and joints, leading to chronic pain, lack of range of motion, tight muscles, and more.
This is why proper posture and improving muscle strength is crucial to overall health.
Increased balance is better for our foot health, athletic performance, and general health, especially as we age.
Balance is the essential foundation of every moment we make. It keeps the body’s center of mass over its support base. Even standing still requires balance.
This is especially important during movement, particularly over uneven surfaces, like trails.
Shoes like Lems can help improve your balance right away, because they allow the feet to move and operate in their natural barefoot position, building muscle strength weakened by years of wearing traditional footwear.
7 Tips for Optimal Foot Health
Choose the Right Footwear
First and foremost, wearing the right footwear will go a long way. Modern footwear is not always designed with the health of our feet in mind.
Tapered toe boxes squish the toes, causing deformities, whereas high heels can cause numerous ailments, and improper fit can lead to injury. There’s a lot that can go wrong when you wear the wrong shoes!
Too tight, too loose, too narrow, or too high of a heel stack can all cause foot problems.
Of course, we think a natural foot-shaped shoe is the ideal footwear for optimal foot health. Our shoes are designed to accommodate the foot, giving the toes plenty of room to splay while also providing a wider surface to improve balance.
Wear the Right Socks
If you’ve ever had a blister, it’s likely that the culprit was your socks. Our feet have 250,000 sweat glands. The right socks will help keep them more comfortable, regulate your body temperature, reduce the risk of blisters, and minimize athlete’s foot.
We love Injinji socks because they are anatomically designed to our feet, allowing the toes to spread and therefore reducing friction (aka, what causes blisters!). We also love that you can wear them with Correct Toes.
Build Foot Strength
Dedicating just a few minutes to foot strength exercises each day can significantly help improve performance, reduce the risk of injury, and undo damage caused by wearing traditional footwear.
Foot strength exercises are especially important if you suffer from common foot problems like bunions or plantar fasciitis. They can also improve balance, which helps you avoid ankle injuries.
Wearing the wrong shoe can result not only in foot injuries and foot deformities, but can also lead to pain in other areas of the body. Traditional shoes can result in bunions, hammertoes, ankle sprains and more. The right shoes are an easy way to avoid injury.
In addition to wearing the right footwear, paying attention to your body will help prevent injuries. If you’re starting a new training plan, be sure to increase distance by no more than 10% each week, going out too fast, too soon is a surefire way to get an injury.
Don’t ignore those little niggles. That’s your body’s way of letting you know that something is going on and you should pay attention. Nip it in the bud before it gets worse.
Wear the Right Size Shoe
Your feet grow as you age, so it’s a good idea to get your shoe size checked annually. In fact, a study performed by the College of Podiatry in the UK revealed that one third of men and nearly half of women were wearing the wrong shoe size. Yikes!
To ensure that you’re wearing the right size shoe, get a professional fitting and go later in the day when your feet are tired and a little swollen.
Further, know that not all shoes fit the same! You may wear an 8.5 in one brand, but a full size up in another!
Switch out Your Shoes
Switch out your running shoes every 300-500 miles. The tread wears down, midsoles compress and flatten, resulting in less shock absorption, which can increase your risk of injury.
If you’re a seasoned runner, you’ll eventually learn by feel when it’s time to swap out your shoes for a new pair.
As much as you might love your one favorite sport, cross training is a great way to find another activity to love, as well as avoid injuries.
This will help you improve your fitness by building strength in areas your primary sport neglects.
Repetitive sports like running and cycling can result in overuse injuries, so a little shake up a couple times a week is a good idea.