Let’s first look at the fitness and health connection problems from misaligned feet unattended for many years through my personal example and experience (also read preceding article, “Good Posture Alignment was Important, What Happened?” Mirror Athlete Blog Article, 25 April 2010).
When I went into the military; during my physical examination the examining physician said, “You have another 5miles left on those feet,” he laughed a little with me [I had no idea what he meant-only to be enlightened 30 years later by a number of orthopedic surgeons] and sent me on my way to the next exam station. The doc’s diagnosis: I was flat-footed with a little arch left in both feet.
I sailed through the physical exams and off to basic I went. Of course, being a young male with plenty of testosterone, I paid no heed to this diagnosis until years later when foot aggravation caused much pain throughout my body at various stages of my life. I did note during Army field training exercises my feet were always grossly blistered and in pain like many other soldiers. So this just seemed to be a normal physical result of the training. After years of hard physical military training and poorly supported military boot ware, this took a toll on my feet, ankles, hips, back and neck. Today I interchange 3 different insoles into various foot ware dependent on what activities I’m doing. These custom support insoles make a big difference in my ability to alleviate pain during movement activity. My overall health is good because my pain tolerance is acceptable to get work done (aerobic walking, hiking, yard work, etc.) while keeping my body conditioned through this corrective ware.
Now let’s look at my potential fitness and health future had I not figured out what was going on and the impact that may have had on my overall health. Like many, I could have continued doing work daily while sucking up pain for years due to uncorrected foot problems while slowly becoming a pain prescription junky. In time, the misalignment of musculoskeletal tissue would cause permanent nerve and soft tissue damage with more radiating pain. This pain disorder would then cause pain depression, possibly affecting my mental health diagnosed as clinical depression. If pain becomes chronic, less motivation to take care of overall fitness health often occurs. For many, this means weight gain and other associated health problems can get out of control in a very short period of time if not corrected.
I don’t have to tell you that obesity in itself impacts blood pressure, heart, lung, kidney, liver health function… The list goes on. At the same time excess weight on otherwise healthy weight bearing joints can and does cause potentially irreversible damage to the integrity of the soft tissues surrounding these areas. It’s never too late to correct misaligned posture, which at a minimum will alleviate pain. And in many cases damaged tissues corrected through foot posture alignment may forgo unnecessary surgical correction. Although I have structural damage throughout my spine, correction of my foot ware has alleviated enough pain that back surgery is now off the table.
There should be greater importance impressed upon postural alignment and pain prevention programs in all educational institutions. When I was a kid, there was minimal information on this matter. As an adult, even during my undergraduate work in Exercise Science, there was postural alignment education, but “not” emphasizing the foot relationship to overall effect on “healthy posture-healthy mind-body.” These relationships were implied with no extensive focus on any scientific model of the time between foot alignment impacts on wellness. I believe at the time of my undergraduate work wellness and alternative health science was experiencing a renaissance of encompassing being (mind, body and spirit). Now there are literally thousands of such books available.
In the military, there was no emphasis on the postural alignment system at all, except PT (Physical Training) form to standards. In our school systems, your children may/may not receive corrective information with regard to sitting up straight during the early grade school years; and less, if any emphasis on proper foot ware. It appears our shoe manufacturing industry has incorporated better designs for proper foot alignment per activities (sport, walk, running, etc.).
So will our foot ware industry take care of our feet and body alignment needs?
There are a few problems with this line of thought. If the foot to total body health is not prioritized in our schools and community at large, priority to postural health will not be emphasized starting at the feet. This means one will give less priority to good shoe design when purchased. And also, less priority on replacing shoes that are badly worn. Wearing shoes badly worn and also shoes with bad design can cause much pain to weight bearing joints. If this practice continues on without correction, irreversible soft tissue damage and pain can and does occur throughout the postural system.
The point is, preventative illness and disease education is up to each and every parent and educator. Hopefully in the near future our education systems will teach our children early on in matters of this importance. Take a preventative course of action now. See our icon links (skeleton, posture chart, or foot icon on Chronic Pain page at the home site), click, read up and learn about Posture Control Insoles if you, or your children are in sports are experiencing any pain in the following weight bearing points of the body: Foot, ankle, knees, hips, back, neck and read up on how posture correction starting at the feet can help to promote greater activity, fitness and health benefits for life. Words of wisdom, “if you have little arch in the feet and go into the military, walk and run a lot, or sports professions, ensure you invest in some good insole shoe support, “even if your feet are in good shape!” This will preserve the integrity of the foot anatomy and body health for a lifetime.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2010 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.