Are you wearing shoes all day? Forced to tuck your feet into constricting footgear for the sake of societal acceptance?
Well then today is the day to take a stand – kick off those shoes, kick back, and spend some quality time pampering your poor, abused feet – it’s Wiggle Your Toes Day. You can do yourself a huge favour by making a habit of going shoe-less on a more regular basis. It can make a world of difference to your health and general well-being.
In a study by Phil Hoffman published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing cultures are compared, highlighting the severe injustices our feet are subjected to.
Genetically, the feet of shoe-wearing people are no different from those of barefooted cultures – we have not yet evolved to having shoe-shaped feet, and up to shoe-wearing age we’re all, pardon the pun, on pretty much equal footing. At this point, however, things take a serious turn for the worse for the shoe-wearers, as we start forcing our feet into shoes that are shaped to conform to some weird societal concept of beauty, rather than footgear that fit the natural form of the foot.
From years of constrictive shoe-wearing, the shape of the feet of shoe-wearing adults diverge completely from adults barefooted cultures. In barefooted people, feet tend to widen towards the toes, and the toes themselves are comfortably spread, with the big toe in particular being separated from it’s neighbour by a considerable interval. This helps with balance and flexibility. Shoe-wearing, however, constricts the spread of the front-foot, and in particular crowds the toes. This results in a narrower, more pointed foot-shape, with the toes close together and often even overlapping their neighbours.
Not only are our shoes the wrong shape, but they are also often too small, even for our already squashed feet. And if that’s not enough, there’s high-heeled shoes – fashion accessories that force the foot into an even more unnatural position, forcing the wearer to stand largely on the front-foot, which as a result has to bear more that it’s proportionate share of the body-weight. This leads to a shortening of the calf muscles to such an extent that many middle aged women cannot dorso-flex the foot to a right angle without bending their knees to relax the calf muscles.
So compared to the healthy, stable, wide, flexible and strong feet of barefooted people, the shoe-wearing cultures have given themselves deformed, pointy, inflexible, weakened, calloused, smelly feet and deformed muscles. Not too clever for a so-called advanced culture, are we?
And given that our feet play such a critical role in our overall health and well-being, is it any wonder that we suffer from so many ailments? Crazy stuff indeed.
So, why don’t you do yourself a favour – kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes. And do this as often as you can. Even if your physical environment makes it difficult to go barefoot, at least opt for some non-constrictive sandals (or jandals, as we call them here in New Zealand), or even some loose-fitting sneakers.
Do this regularly, and your body will love you for it!