By Yamuna Zake
In honour of National Feet Week, we are sharing an extract from The Foot Fix by Yamuna Zake. In this chapter titled ‘Meet Your Feet’, Yamuna asks us to take a closer look at our feet and the way we walk. At the end of the extract, Yamuna also shares a short activity that teaches us how to check if our foot bones are aligned.
If I asked, “How do you walk?” what would you say? Could you explain exactly how your body accomplishes walking? When I first teach new students, they have no idea how to answer this question. They usually fumble for words and wind up saying something like, “I just walk!” or “It’s like breathing – I just do it.”
Unlike every new device you buy, the feet don’t come with a user manual. When you were about a year old, you simply got up on them and started walking. Nobody told you how. Whatever walking pattern you started with got more and more ingrained in your body as you grew older. And it probably included some poor habits.
Most people never think about their feet unless they become a problem. And this is precisely why most feet don’t last throughout their owner’s lifetime without breaking down in some way. As long as you can stand, walk and carry out your regular activities without discomfort, your poor feet will likely remain neglected and forgotten.
Often people tell me that they’ve never had any foot problems before, but now suddenly their feet are killing them. Shoes they’ve always worn are no longer comfortable, or they had to give up wearing the high heels they adored. Their feet have become too wide for their shoes, or they find themselves only buying styles with cushioned soles because their feet are so sensitive. I explain that, after all this time, their walking pattern has finally worn their feet down. Those feet are now begging for a change that will improve their gait and prevent further breakdown. Think of this book as that user manual for your feet, one that enables you to get optimal function from them.
To help you discover and correct your own pattern yourself, this chapter makes the feet really easy to understand. Once you get acquainted with the four parts of the foot and learn how to get each part working properly together with the others, your feet will do their job excellently and take you wherever you want to go.
In this chapter, I will explain how the feet are supposed to work and how they get injured. The feet are brilliantly engineered structures, designed to support your entire body weight as you move through space. When the foot bones are correctly aligned and the muscles work properly, your feet support you effortlessly. Unfortunately most people’s head, shoulders and chest tend to drop forward and down because the feet are not supporting their bodies to be upright in the way active, fully functional feet should. At the same time, this collapse of the upper body puts extra pressure down into the feet, making it harder for them to maintain proper alignment.
Architecturally speaking, faulty foot alignment is like a faulty foundation of a building. Such a foundation can’t sustain the structure and someday it could come tumbling down. That’s what happens in the body when the feet are not the solid foundation they’re meant to be.
Also, there is a big myth in our culture that people who are overweight can get rid of their foot pain if they just lose weight. I always tell people that even though excess weight can contribute to foot pain by putting more pressure into the knees and feet, once their feet are active and working properly, their foot pain will improve.
Yamuna Zake is a visionary healer dedicated to demystifying the body and providing simple, powerful tools to make lifelong fitness a reality for everyone. She has trained an international network of 700 certified practitioners, from the USA and Canada to Europe and Asia, and hosts sell-out foot-fitness classes around the world for clients aged 20 to 70. Her work has been featured internationally in magazines, newspapers and on TV, and she is the author of The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout.