The Mechanical Quadrant reminds us to look at the functioning of our physical bodies. Are we moving, are we in pain, are we sleeping? We need to continuously “check in” with our physical selves and take care of our bodies in order for them to function at their best.
A tree is a great analogy for the functioning of our bodies. A tree has roots, a trunk, branches, and leaves. The roots soak up water and nutrients, which then run all the way up into the leaves. The leaves gather sunshine and send the nutrients and resources down to the rest of the tree.
The roots of the tree are so important. They are gathering water and nutrients from the soil. But the roots also anchor the tree in the soil and provide a strong and steady foundation for the tree. The roots hold it so that it doesn’t tip over in a strong breeze, and they allow the tree to grow strong, tall, and straight.
To bring this analogy to our bodies, our feet function like the roots in providing a strong and steady foundation for our bodies. When our feet feel good and are functioning at their best, they allow the rest of our body to be straight and strong.
Dr. Mark Green, a podiatrist with Kansas City Foot and Ankle, explains how important our feet are to our entire wellbeing. As a podiatrist, he is an expert with the medical and surgical treatment of the foot and ankle, and he continuously sees people coming to his office because something has gone wrong with their feet. They are in pain and their feet aren’t able to provide the strong base that they need.
As Dr. Green says, “I can’t tell you how often people tell me that if your feet hurt, you hurt all over. And how true that is. If your feet are uncomfortable, you’re going to compensate. You’re going to walk differently. You might walk on a different part of your foot. That will affect how your muscles, your joints, everything functions all the way up.”
We need our feet to provide that strong foundation, but if they are in pain, it affects everything.
Dr. Green points out that one of the problems that cause foot pain is the shoes that we choose. “Many people think: fashion first, comfort second. Unfortunately society places more importance on looking good than on feeling good. I’d probably say that most conditions that we see in our office are related to abnormal foot function or instability. So by providing your feet with the proper support and stability, you can eliminate or prevent painful conditions.”
We spend most of our day in shoes, and because they are so important to how our feet feel, Dr. Green gives some tips on how to find shoes that fit properly.
- Look at your feet and understand how they are shaped. Do you have a high arch or a low arch? Is your foot wider in a particular area? How are the toes shaped?
- Feet can expand during the day, so try on shoes in the afternoon or evening when your feet are at their largest.
- Leave enough space so that you can wiggle your toes. A pointy-toed shoe may not allow this, so also look at round or square-toed shoes.
- Bring your socks and your orthotics with you when you try on shoes. Make sure the shoes fit with everything you normally wear.
- Choose the size that fits your larger foot.
We are thinking about our feet as our foundation, so it’s important to also consider how our feet feel as we move in the shoes. Do those shoes make your ankle wobble when you try to walk? Are they loose enough that you have to twist the heel of your foot to keep it on? Make sure you walk around the store in the shoes to see how they affect your movement.
Dr. Green also gives a list of “don’ts” for shoe fit:
- Don’t buy shoes expecting that they will be more comfortable after you break them in. Shoes should be comfortable now.
- Don’t buy shoes that are too tight. Shoes aren’t going to stretch that much, and you’ll be in pain waiting for them to stretch.
- Don’t make your shoes do multiple jobs. Buy running shoes to run in and walking shoes to walk in.
- Don’t buy the cheapest pair. You will get what you pay for and shoes are worth the investment so that you protect your feet.
Our feet are important to create a stable foundation for our bodies. If something about our feet causes us pain, it can affect our whole body. Our feet can also give us a glimpse of the health of our body through their appearance and location of pain or discomfort.
Small changes to our choices in footwear and how we treat our feet can make big shifts in how our whole body feels. Remember that if you are experiencing more serious pain symptoms, it’s worth talking to a podiatrist about your feet.