Foot Alignment in Standing Walking and Running

Learn to realign your feet and toes to avoid bunions.
Learn to realign your feet and toes to avoid bunions.

Building up a good posture is akin to building a tower of building blocks. You must start at the base, your feet, the foundation of the body. Correct foot and toes alignment and placement in standing and walking give optimum balance, strength and endurance. Designed with their natural cushioning and bouncing mechanism, your feet can help you build a posture that can carry you most efficiently against the constant downward pulling force of gravity throughout a challenging lifetime.

Both the fitness- and shoe-industry try to convince us that feet need to be strapped in the latest, most expensive and most advanced technologically cushioned trainers. But do we really need them, or could they weaken our feet?

Foot Prints

A foot print or drawing of a foot is indicative of its health.
A foot print or drawing of a foot is indicative of its health. | Source

1. The Feet in Posture

Feet are the most important part of posture since they carry the rest of the body. Take your shoes off and stand on the floor with bare feet. Now try to spread your toes as far out as possible. Make them look like ducks' feet. Now look at the footprint to see how you use (or misuse) your feet.

Flat Feet or Pigeon Toed?

1. Weight too much on outside of feet (Pigeon toed).
1. Weight too much on outside of feet (Pigeon toed). | Source
2. normal
2. normal | Source
3. Weight too much on inside of feet (flat feet).
3. Weight too much on inside of feet (flat feet). | Source

2. Foot Placement

Stand with your feet parallel and look down at your feet. Which picture do they resemble?

I see joggers running their ankles into the ground because they don't realize that they have fallen arches (flat feet). Flat feet soon causes knee damage. Badly aligned knees may, later on in life, create the need for hip-replacement operations. That is why it is so important to start at the base.

To better understand why people suffer unnecessarily, let us take a look at the structure of the foot. Even if you have chosen picture 2 as resembling your foot print, practice the Toe Alignment move below for maintenance, and to prevent future problems.

Squashed Toes

Source

3.Toe Alignment

The main body of your foot is, like your hands, made up of fan-shaped bones spreading out towards your toes. Your toes should be aligned as a continuationof these fan-shaped bones. Not many feet are shaped like this because we wear ill fitting, mass manufactured shoes. But that's another story, what to do with bunions, hammer toes, and other such self-inflicted horrors . (Find the link at the bottom).

Brain Training

The funny thing is that when people make an effort to spread their toes, they often open the palms and spread the fingers as well. This is because the brain is more familiar with sending "spread" message to the hands than to the feet. When the toes are asked to spread, they follow a movement pattern the brain already knows from when it sends messages to the hand. The fingers are trying to teach the toes how to do the job. The brain is such a clever organ (pardon the cliché) that it will use what ever information is already stores in its memory to resolve a new task. Say, for example, you decided that you wanted to learn to write all over again but this time with the left hand (that is, if you are right-handed). The task would be much easier to you, already an accomplished writer, than to a child who is learning to formulate the shapes of the letters from scratch.

To get back to spreading your toes, the benefits are manyfold. Not only are you beginning to improve your feet, your stance, balance and posture. By learning new moves for previously dormant parts of your body, you are now also developing new brain cells all at the same time! Is that enough incentive? Now let us re-align the big toe.

Re-aligning the Big Toe

Make sure to keep the big toe joint in place.
Make sure to keep the big toe joint in place. | Source

1. Place the right foot on the ball of the foot so that it is 'turned in', with the big toe pointing inwards.

2. While keeping the big toe firmly in place (you might need to use your hands to keep him there), bring the heel inwards and down onto the floor until the foot is parallel as on the last picture. Now the foot is correctly aligned for most efficient weight bearing.

3. Keeping the toes spread and the heel on the floor, bend your knee slightly while aligning the knee-cap centrally above the third toe.

4. Now slowly straighten the knee. You should feel a lifting of the longitudinal arch (the inside of the sole) and a lot of strength coming into the outside of your ankle and shin.

5. Repeat from No.1 above two or three times with the same foot until you can feel it working. Aim to keep the toes fanned out.

6. Shake the foot loose as if throwing off a large boot.

7. Repeat with the left foot.

Both Feet

Realign with Both Feet

Source

Long Arch & Cross Arch

Source

1. Hold onto something and stand on the ball of your feet, turned in, with your big toes close together.

2. Slowly bring the heels together and down onto the floor while keeping the tips of your big toes in place.

3. Now bend the knees while aligning them centrally over the feet.

4. Straighten the knees. You should feel a lifting of the arches and a lot of strength coming into the ankles and the sides of your shins.

5. Repeat from No.1 two or three times and shake loose.

Next, let us take a look at the bottom of your feet, the sole.

4. The Sole of the Foot

Just like a kitten's paw, the sole of your foot has pads for shock absorption. There is one large pad under the heel, two pads form the ball of the foot, and you have a pad under each toe. The areas that don't touch the ground form the feet's arches. How can you restore the arches?

Restoring the Foot's Arches

You may get cramp doing this the first time. In that case, make a "counter move" by placing the ball of the foot on the floor and lifting the ankle. Then try again.
You may get cramp doing this the first time. In that case, make a "counter move" by placing the ball of the foot on the floor and lifting the ankle. Then try again. | Source

Arch Lift

In all the previous exercises for foot and toes alignment we made sure that the knee-cap was centered above the middle toe when bending the leg in standing (for example when you go up and down the stairs). Now practice the Arch Lift as shown here to strengthen the cross arch.

Try to pick things up with your feet to develop the right muscles for restoring and maintaining both the long arch and the cross arch.

How Often? Multitasking

There are numerous situations when you can fill time by training your body while doing something else or simply to fill up boring waiting time. Once you understand and have become familiar with the exercises above, rather than setting aside valuable time especially to "exercise", you can perform any of the above moves every time you take your shoes and socks off, or when you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or while you are brushing your teeth, or while waiting for something to download on your computer, or even in the shower. In this way, what you learn here can become automatically incorporated into your daily habits.

Consequences of Flat Feet When Running

Shoes or no shoes in the house?

Do you take your shoes off when you get home?

  • I take my shoes off straight away and leave them by the front door. We don't wear shoes in the house.
  • I take my shoes off when I relax to watch TV.
  • I take my shoes off when I go to bed.
See results without voting

Be Well Grounded - Don't be a Push-Over

What we learned here is that correct foot and toes alignment and placement in standing and walking are crucial to good posture. As you continue doing the above exercises as part of your daily dressing, grooming and multitasking routines, you will soon discover that your feet will gain in mobility and strength. You will become more grounded, confident, and gain much improved posture and balance.

What has confidence to do with your feet? Well, in body language, someone who is well grounded with a decent posture and feet they can walk on comfortably literally "stands his/her ground" and is not so easily pushed over. Confidence Invites respect!

Here is the promised link to What Shoes Can Do To Your Feet

Share your Thoughts

You will find real live case studies and any questions you may have will be answered in the comments discussion below.

____________________

© 2016 JULIETTE KANDO - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will be reported with a DMCA notice and will be removed.

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Comments 27 comments

Seshagopalan profile image

Seshagopalan 15 months ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

I strongly feel shoes are not required for kids at all.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 19 months ago from Andalusia Author

Yes, peachpurple,

Building up proper posture starts at the feet. Only then is it possible to align the ankles, knees, pelvis, and the spine. When moving and walking, always be aware of economic weight distribution.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

i always have problem with my back ache, now i know it comes from my walking ways that had caused the problems, thanks


alternative_ave profile image

alternative_ave 24 months ago from West Coast USA

I enjoyed reading your hub very much and I will be giving these exercises a try. Thank you for the great advice.


Neil Keleher profile image

Neil Keleher 2 years ago from Taiwan

Hey Sue, thanks. I think for me my focus is going to be on my own website. But thanks for the kind words.

For anyone interested, check out sensational yoga poses.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia Author

Yes, a video is on my to-do list. And thank you for the foot bath reminder Leah.


Leah 2 years ago

Can you post a video with the foot exercises? I am a visual learner and want to be sure I do them correctly. Great Articles! I have started soaking my feet each evening for 30mins hot water no salts or bubbles added... followed with a pumice stone then coconut oil. I was reading in a book ”Age less Live more" how important it is we give our feet extra attention each day after carrying our full body weight all day.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia Author

I read your long comment again Neil and appreciate it. You are obviously as passionate about expanding body awareness as I am. Why not turn the issue into into a hub: " How to Become More Body Aware - Where to Start?" or something to that effect. Keep up the good work!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi Joan,

It's never too late to make a change.


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Great article! Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting! I wish somebody had motivated me to do something like this when I was young!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

You are right Neil, the pelvis is a good place to build up posture in sitting. I like your emphasis on breathing and awareness focus.

I went to your hub:

http://hubpages.com/health/Neck-Stretches-for-Ex-S...

and had a jolly good neck stretch. Thank you

PS: You might like to try the "Head Walk" as a way to loosen and strengthen the back of the neck safely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nyeDzslgtw


Neil Keleher profile image

Neil Keleher 5 years ago from Taiwan

that's true but in order to stand up, walk, run and jump they need their whole body. I'm not saying that learning the feet isn't important. Learning the whole body is important. I've got flat feet (half flat actually) and one of the exercises that I teach when I teach standing poses is how to activate feet and use feet to feel center of gravity. However, before I have them standing I often have them start sitting. While sitting I teach them to feel their pelvis first, then their spine, then their ribs, then their head. Then when they are standing I have them feel their feet.

If they are balancing on their hands, I often have them learn to use their shoulders first.

If you learn to break the body down into bits, like you obviously have, you can teach any piece you like first. You obviously choose to start with the feet first because it makes sense to you and it does to me to. but it doesn't mean that everyone and their dog has to start that way too.

and just to argue a point for starting with the neck, it's what babies start of learning.

I'm not saying here that everyone should start with the neck because babies do, but it is a reasonably starting point.

Another starting point could be breathing. You can learn to feel your breath as a starting point for really good posture. How? teach people to breath with their spine and ribcage. It's not the perfect type of breathing method but it teaches people how to feel their ribs and thoracic spine and better yet improves mobility of them both too.

One of the nice things about teaching people how to feel their breath is that they can then radiate that awareness outwards to the rest of their body.

But you can do the exact same thing with your feet too. Start with the feet and radiate awareness upwards from there.

I should point out here that I focus on teaching people to feel and control their body and I also take the time to explain what they have to do. And I make the exercises simple enough that they can focus on doing them. If they can't do the exercise then I re-explain it or redefine it to find an exercise that they can do. Some people are more sensitive and have better body control than others. However, in all cases it can be something that continues to improve over time. And so depending on the people, I'll start with the feet in some cases, the spine or the breath (or something else) in other cases. But in all cases the goal is the same to help them better be able to feel and control their body and lead it with a clear idea of what they are trying to do.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

OK Neil, I agree that the spine is crucial in posture but at some point people are going to have to stand up and walk, run and jump. If they have flat feet, miss-aligned ankles and knees then they are not going to get very far are they? Better get the feet right first.


Neil Keleher profile image

Neil Keleher 5 years ago from Taiwan

You can always start seated, then the feet dont' matter. You can then focus on creating a good foundation for the spine by learning to feel your pelvis. Or you can learn to move your pelvis and spine together which gives you a good foundation in feeling your spine, pelvis and ribs. Students can learn to feel their spine first (or elemements of their spine) while sitting or they can focus on feeling their feet while standing. In either case you help them to feel their body.

Posture can start with your spine and radiate outwards, or it can start from your feet and radiate upwards.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

Neil,

I believe that good posture is the first quality to nurture before attempting training of any kind apart from perhaps swimming where gravity is less detrimental.

Starting with the feet is the only option to make it work. You cannot construct an edifice without a sound foundation.


Neil Keleher profile image

Neil Keleher 5 years ago from Taiwan

Hi, another great article. Agree that starting with the feet is a great option, however it isn't the only good option.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

I've heard of those. Good if you can help some of the victims.


DePuy Pinnacle lawsuit 5 years ago

Hi Sue! Good posture and foot placement are so important, especially for those that may be having problems with a defective DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement. Thanks for the info!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

I agree with Safire. Shoes on young kids can really damage their feet.


SafireRodona 5 years ago

You should not put any shoes on your baby until absolutely necessary. Keeping the feet free, naked, allows for more natural development and growth. Shoes always damage the feet however "sensible" they might be. At least that's my opinion for what it's worth.


Andrea 6 years ago

I have a 9 months old baby who is nearly walking. I get confused with contradictory information. Some people say I should put firm shoes on him to support his feet and help him balance, other say I should leave the shoes off for as long as possible. What should I do?


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

I'm so glad Magnoliazz that you agree with me about starting the postural construction at the feet. The Alexander Society nearly took me to court for criticising the Alexander Technique in that Alexander's starting point was the neck.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_technique#H...

Today Pilates is more popular than Alexander. Just goes to show how fashion trends shift. The best method is probably a well informed mixture of the main disciplines including yoga, tai-chi, Feldenkrais, Bartenieff and many others.


magnoliazz profile image

magnoliazz 6 years ago from Wisconsin

WOW Sue! Great hub! I am a nurse, and even I learned from this hub.

One thing I would like to say also is that it is important to walk around barefoot as much as possible, because this will naturally realign your spine and pelvis. I suffered a serious back injury, and ever since I have found some

relief with just going barefoot, and finding shoes with very little heel, as close to the human foot as possible.

Yes, health starts with the foot and works its way up.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 7 years ago from Andalusia Author

Thank you Appletreedeals. It's nice someone takes the trouble to give me expert advice. I'll do that.


Appletreedeals profile image

Appletreedeals 7 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

Ok Sue, last one for tonight. I hope these are helpful and not an nusiance.

Google search, (that's how you get indexed and traffic) like to see fresh content when it crawls a page/hub.

put an RSS news capsule at the end of your hub, after comments capsule, and use keywords related to hub content

your rss will always be updating with fresh news stories, and every time a web spider crawls your page it will see it has been updated with "fresh" content and will give you a little better page ranking.

but don't use this as a complete "fudge", make sure you put in news feeds related to hub contents.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 7 years ago from Andalusia Author

Thank you for your comment Mega1. As a classical ballet dancer my pointe shoes made sure I developped bunions. Later, long after I stopped dancing on my toes my Yoga teacher showed me the Toe Alignment exercice above which really helped me get my poor feet back into some form of normality. The key is: keep practicing and don't wear narrow shoes.


Mega1 7 years ago

You're a good writer - I can hardly wait to see what you suggest for bunions. My bunion can hardly wait, also. Thanks for these exercises.

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