DIY Friday: Bye Bye Foot Pain!

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*Do it yourself! Every Friday we do a roundup of great posts, videos, or other resources around a theme that help people to turn their bodies from cranky to happy.*

bowman footThis DIY Friday is a review of Katy Bowman's book, Every Woman's Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet. So first off, dudes, you know I love you so stop your grumbling. This still thoroughly applies to you. I believe Bowman wrote her book to the ladies mainly because we tend to make much, much poorer footwear choices for ourselves. Men are not expected to wear 3 inch heels to the office, for example. Well, depending on the office? That would be an interesting office. Sorry, I got off track, my point is, if you are a man who is struggling with foot pain, don't cheat yourself out of getting this amazing resource just because the word "woman" is front and center. Just hide it on your Kindle or something, ok? You'll have to read a few bits on the plague of high heels, but the rest is super juicy and relevant for men as well as women. And the exercises given in the book are distinctly gender neutral and fan-freaking-tastic.

But on to the book review: I frequently find in the movement and alignment world that many resources skew either too woo woo, are overly filled with academic jargon, or are just plain misinformed rookies trying to make a buck in the chronic pain field. Well Katy Bowman is not going to tell you that you can resolve your foot pain by imagining all of your chakras simultaneously blooming into daisies, nor is she going to make you read endless lists of ligaments of the feet (try saying anterior inferior tibial fibular ligament 3 times fast!), and as a scientist with a Masters in biomechanics, she's certainly no rookie. Her book hits that perfect sweet spot of being both profoundly useful, and accessible to a wide population. It also happens to answer many of the most common questions that I hear in my Rolfing® practice related to the feet. Scratch that, make that related to everything.

Yes, this book will help you with foot-specific issues like bunions, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, corns, neuromas, etc, but it is also an enormously useful resource to help people with knee, hip, and back pain, as well as addressing  posture and I would argue a seriously important read for anyone concerned with maintaining health while aging. As Bowman writes in her book, "The function of the foot goes way beyond the scrunching of the toes and the stabilizing of the ankle. The foot is the platform for your entire body. The muscles have to be strong enough to keep your entire body moving as smoothly as possible. If I haven't clearly stated it before, the current state of your feet is a future projection of how well you will be able to move as you get older. "

Don't believe the divine Ms. Bowman and I on this one? Then try this little experiment at home: pretend your feet have suddenly turned into rigid bricks and take a walk on your pretend ultra-rigid feet. Did you just instantaneously turn into Frankenstein in your living room? Yep, that's because the mobility of your feet determines to a huge degree the mobility of all of you. You cannot move with the supple spine of a Brazilian samba dancer with Frankenstein's feet downstream from that spine. To put it into more anatomical/ less monster movie terms; joints are where we move musculoskeletally in our bodies. Imagine yourself navigating a day without movement at your knees and elbows and you get a sense for the joints=movement equation. In our feet we have thirty-three joints. In my elbow I have 3, and in my knee I have 2, but my feet have thirty-three. Those dogs were built for mobility, and that is in large part for the benefit of how that mobility translates up to the rest of you.

But enough of my yammering. If you're still reading this review it's because you want happier, healthier feet, or you want to play with how improving your foot health might impact the rest of you. Well good news! Nearly half of Katy Bowman's book is dedicated to "The Foot Gym" with exercises to help you get your feet into tip top shape. They are all very easy to do at home and can be dripped into your life in a totally sane way. You don't need to suddenly dedicate an hour a day to working on your feet to see benefit, and it doesn't require investing in ridiculous new equipment. You can find the book and give the exercises a shot here.  Needless to say, I highly recommend it.