Learn to walk properly

Amy’s got a post of the “the medical establishment don’t know as much as they want you to think” variety: Foot Orthotics Will Correct The Problem Of Too Much Money In Your Checking Account

Now, I happen to have flat feet, and I actually did have a set of orthotics at one point. I also worked summers as a retail cashier in school, which means eight hours of standing in one spot, more or less. The right shoes for that job are critical – never, ever make the mistake of wearing running shoes if you’re going to be standing. I was in such agony by the end of the day the one time I wore my running shoes that I had to call my dad to give me a ride home rather than walking as I usually did. Bought some proper shoes after that and it was fine.

But the one thing I noticed, between the wear on my running shoes in college (when I had to run for PT every week) and the way the shoe inserts held my feet, was that I was putting too much weight on the inside of my foot. So I started paying attention to how I was walking, and deliberately shifting my feet so that I was centering the weight across the ball of my foot instead of the inside. Definitely did something – my knees ached for a while at first, as my muscles adjusted to the new pattern. I definitely still have to double-check how I’m standing every once in a while, but I don’t have a problem with my feet anymore. 

You’d think that once you learned how to walk as a kid, that would be it – you’d be doing it properly and all. But as I learned in choir with breathing – that’s not actually true. Bad habits can creep in, and everyone in chorus has to relearn how to breathe fully and deeply from the abdomen. I remember watching a youtube video ages ago, about physical therapy and “mapping” – aka, the way you think about the way your body is connected. If your mental map is wrong, you can hold your body awkwardly and cause a lot of problems. The illustration, in fact, was wrists – the correct “map” is to notice that the line of your outer arm continues straight through your little finger, and your thumbs stick inward. (Think of the shape of those funny-looking ergonomic keyboards that are split down the middle.) If instead you think of the line of your arm as going along your inner arm and down through your thumb, you’ll be bending your wrists awkwardly and causing yourself trouble. (This is the position that’s “encouraged” by the shape of your typical flat keyboard.) I looked at my arms and hands, went “huh,” and shifted how I did things like type and hold the steering wheel of my car. Bingo – no more pain in my wrists from long drives. I don’t have an ergonomic keyboard, but I do hold my hands properly while I type, and since I don’t type all day for a living, it works. 

Posture matters for more than just the spine, after all. 

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