Your Flat Feet Are Killing You!!

Fix your feet, increase your life span.

As someone who has a pronation in one foot since childhood, the symptoms in the entire body are very real and devastating. Its why I need Pilates in my life every day and why I also teach-

Pilates improves my health - want to improve your health ? Please dont leave it until chronic pain sets in!!!!

Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people with flat feet.

Almost all teenagers I see in my general medical practice have feet with ‘fallen arches’ and pronation. The tragedy is that as adults they will suffer from knee, hip, lower back and neck pain. Spinal mobility will decline leading to effects on internal organ and brain health that will decrease overall health and lifespan.

The foot has two arches, a longitudinal arch that runs lengthwise from heel to toes and a transverse arch that extends from the inside (medial) portion of the foot to the outside (lateral) part of the foot. With every step the arch acts as a shock absorber as well as storing energy as weight drops into the foot and releasing this energy in a spring like way. 

These actions reduce shock waves that race up the leg with every footfall and add a ‘spring to your step’, decreasing the effort needed to walk and run.

For the foot’s arch to be effective, weight has to drop into the centre of the arch with each step. This requires the lower back, hips and knees to move in an elastic, fluid and coordinated way with each step.

If the lower back, hip and knees have restricted movements the body’s weight will fall onto the inside (medial) part of the foot. This prevents the foot’s arch from acting in a spring like way and slowly stretches out the tissues that hold the bones of the foot in an arch-like shape. The arch gradually flattens and the ankle tips over medially. This medial tipping is called Pronation.

With the weight falling medically on the foot there is excessive pressure applied to the inside (medial) part of the knee. This leads over time to a wearing down of the medial knee’s cartilage surface as shown below.

The hips, lower back and neck all experience altered biomechanics leading to degenerative changes that cause stiffness and pain.

Increasing stiffness of the spine leads to a decrease in mobility of the body’s core regions (skull/spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis). 

Decreased ‘Core Mobility’ affects circulation to the Internal Organs and circulation of fluid within the brain. 

With each breath the chest and diaphragm muscle contract and relax, exerting a sponge compression/release forced on the liver, spleen, kidneys and other Internal Organs. With each breath pressure changes propel fluid in a circuit up the spinal column to the brain and down again. These breathing related benefits are inhibited by decreased Core Mobility.

Flat feet are a result of restricted movement of the back, hips and knees and contribute to accelerated deterioration of the structures. 

This deterioration leads to decreased Core Mobility, a decline in Internal Organ health and a reduced flow of nutritive and cleansing fluid flow to the brain and spinal cord.

What has happened to dramatically increase incidence of flat feet? In the last fifty years our world has become flat and hard. I’m 63 and as a child growing up in the 1950's I spent most of my time playing with friends in the field behind my home. We were out running around until dusk. There were no malls and TV had three channels that we watched only a few hours a week. Floors at school and home were often wooden and cushioned our steps.

Today floors are hard underfoot, visiting the mall is a frequent occurrence and TV watching seems to take up hours every night. We sit in front of computer screens at home and at work. We drive long distances to work and back. Exercise time has to be sliced out of a busy life. It’s not hard to understand why our bodies have changed, with tighter and less mobile knees, hips and spine.

The cartilage surface of the ball at the head of the hip bone and the cartilage surface of the perfectly matching round cavity it it’s into line up only with the hip bone placed in a very specific position. These two cartilage surfaces do not align when you stand upright. They only align when the hip bone is pulled up towards the body slightly (flexed), rotated out slightly and angled away from the body slightly (abducted). Can you guess what position this is? It’s the position the hip assumes when we are ‘on all fours’. Our bodies still have much of the anatomy we as a species had when millions of years ago we spend much of our time knuckle walking. Our brains have raced ahead but in an evolutionary sense our bodies retain ancient patterns.

To maintain or regain the foot’s arch it is important to understand that many parts of the body, if not every part of the body, must work together to achieve more natural and biomechanically balanced movement. It is important to feed the body with natural movement on natural surfaces. Taking a forest hike, going up hills and down valleys will wake up your reparative abilities. Using Yoga and Tai Chi to learn about ways your body was intended to move and stretch through tight areas is helpful.

Core Mobility is the result of having a body that moved freely, allowing each breath to promote circulation to the Internal Organs and brain. Core Mobility leads to better health and longer life.

Measuring Core Mobility helps to objectively show the benefit of making healthy lifestyle choices. VitalSines, a company I founded, has developed the iHeart Internal Age system to measure and monitor Core Mobility. iHeart uses a fingertip sensor, a 30 second test and a mobile app to determine Aortic Stiffness. The Aorta runs immediately in front of the spine from the heart through the chest and abdomen. Aortic Stiffness is a substitute marker of spinal stiffness and has been noted in many scientific articles to predict risk of death from all causes. No kidding, Aortic Stiffness is a single metric able to assess overall health and estimate lifespan.

In summary, look at people’s feet. They tell a sad tale about our ‘modern’ society that has robbed our bodies of natural movement and will create suffering from early onset of degenerative knee, hip and spinal changes. Health and even cognitive abilities depend on good Core Mobility. We have such potential to stay strong and healthy forever but it slips away.

I encourage you to recognize that every person has an ability to recognize what their body needs and slowly but surely ‘move the needle’ in the direction of health and healing.”.

Check out our January courses at Limhamn Pilates to improve your health!!