In my last post I talked about the need to gradually build up the strength in our feet and ankles if we want to switch to minimalist or “barefoot” styles of footwear. Highly supportive shoes and orthodics (arch/foot supports) deprive our foot and ankle muscles of exercise and cause them to atrophy if worn too much. By spending some time walking in bare or sock feet or wearing minimalist shoes, we work these muscles and give them a chance to strengthen up.
One of my patients recently brought it to my attention that this only works if the muscles are “turned on”. You may remember me talking about the “weak” muscles that show up on muscle testing. trying to exercise these “turned off” muscles is like trying to replace a light bulb when the dimmer switch is turned down in order to get more light! The muscles aren’t able to really exercise unless the we find the reason they are turned off and correct it.
Making sure the ankle and arch support muscles are turned on are always important not only for foot support but for structural alignment throughout the body. This is even more important during the transition to minimalist or barefoot styles.
Next time I see you, don’t forget to “get your feet turned on”!