by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
One of my biggest words of advice to my patients is, daily consistent habits are the ones that have the greatest impact on overall health and well-being.
Whether this is brushing your teeth in the morning or doing a daily foot release, consistently doing something positive for the body will over time create a large accumulative effect.
To further understand the power of consistency it is important to appreciate that aging, disease, and most injuries are slow and progressive in nature. It is the day-to-day stress we place on the body that slowly accumulates and eventually causes a breakdown in the system.
Take, for example, plantar fasciitis or fasciosis. This soft tissue injury occurs after the repeated overload of the tissue and is often the result of hours on our feet and miles in our shoes.
To effectively prevent or manage heel pain and stress to the plantar fascia we need to think about consistent daily habits that are to be performed as part of our lifestyle. Below are a few that I recommend to many of my patients.
Habit #1 – Daily Foot Release
Rolling the feet on a golf ball or Neuro Ball is an easy way to release and reverse the daily stress we place on our overworked foot muscles. Doing just 5 minutes, twice a day, when brushing the teeth can be a powerful and effective way to reduce stress on the plantar fascia and other tendons of the foot.
Habit #2 – Daily Foot Activation
Our feet have 17 small muscles in the bottom of the foot, all of which play an important role in foot support and the absorption of impact forces. Depending on foot type and type of shoes worn, these intrinsic muscles may be weak, requiring daily foot activation.
To wake up the foot muscles, stand on one leg barefoot for 30 seconds. To get even more foot activation, try to push the toes down into the ground. If you can perform this 2 times per side.
Habit #3 – Daily Sensory Stimulation
The bottom of our feet contains thousands of nerves, all of which need to be stimulated and challenged in order to stay sensitive. Walking around barefoot in the home or on a Naboso Mat is a great way to get at least 30 minutes of sensory stimulation a day.
Added bonus, if the weather allows, try to do your barefoot stimulation outside as you get the added benefit of earthing!
Habit #4 – Daily Foot Hydration
No other part of the body is placed under as much load or stress as the feet. All of this accumulative stress can wreak havoc on the skin of our feet. From calluses and corns to athlete’s foot and fissures, the skin of our feet also deserves daily TLC.
Daily use of a urea-based product can not only moisturize the feet but also reduce the thickening of the skin as it is a mild exfoliant. In addition to daily moisturizing of the feet, it is also beneficial to perform a weekly mechanical debridement with a pumice stone or foot file.
Habit #5 – Daily Foot Supplements
Daily supplements are a great way to support the body’s nutritional and protein needs when they cannot be met through diet alone. In addition, as we age our body’s natural production of certain enzymes declines, making supplementation with products such as StepStrong important to maintain a certain level of health.
Like with all supplements, consistency is very important. Their effect on the body is slow, accumulative, and oftentimes based on other healthy habits. I often advise my patients to take supplements consistently for 3 months before assessing their efficacy.
As a final reminder of the above healthy foot habits. Remember that that is exactly what they are – habits. It takes at least 60 days or just over 2 months to create a habit. So be patient, be kind to yourself, and most important – be consistent!