For all the attention being given to footwear of late – Vibram 5 Fingers, Sketchers, etc. – our feet themselves get precious little attention. Although our ancestors’ bare feet negotiated uneven terrain littered with rocks, grit and twigs all day long without complaint, our feet pad the flat concrete in search of new foot coverings to stop them from hurting. Of course modern lives and needs are vastly different from those in millennia past, but as in other arenas where civilization has brought mixed blessings, our bodies have lost certain native capacities in the process of becoming modernized. Importantly, our feet have lost the capacity to receive intelligence from the ground and use it in support of the body.
Accommodating those twigs and pebbles kept our ancestors’ feet pliable, adapting through the 26 bones within each foot. As 32 joints shaped themselves to rough terrain, the related lower leg muscles, tendons and membranes maintained their resiliency and their capacity to cushion each footstep. The lower legs are a crucial part of the foot’s responsiveness. This, incidentally, is the information gleaned from the barefoot running studies that predated the current craze for barefoot running and barefoot running footwear.
Modern legs are too often tense, hardening the soft tissues in the lower leg and thereby blocking normal adaptability of the foot. In the accompanying video I share a self-help exercise that can release lower leg tension and begin to restore adaptability to your feet.