Slave to Fashion
I’ve always been a fan of fashion. I’ve been expressing myself through the clothing and shoes I wear for as long as I can remember. And before discovering my passion as a movement educator, I was a hairstylist for fourteen years.
I’m acutely conscious of the shoes I wear now, but that hasn’t always been the case. If you’d met me in the 1990s, or in the early 2000s you would’ve found me rockin’ some platform shoes, or my absolute favorite, pointy-toed high heels.
My work days as a hairstylist were long and grueling, and I didn’t just spend a couple hours in my hot looking shoes. I’d be on my feet for eight to ten hours every day, frequently on a concrete floor. And, using some twisted logic, I was actually proud of my ability to make it through the day in my shoes that felt like hell, but looked so damn good.
Back then I had no idea what I was doing to my feet for the sake of my hot style. I never realized what kind of long-term negative affect it would have on my body.
At the time, even if I had known, I don’t think I would’ve cared. I was more concerned with what fashion was saying, and fashion was in love with pointy-toed shoes and high heels!
Cramming my feet into shoes that were way too narrow changed the shape of my feet. My toes began to grow into the shape of the fashion forward “casts” I’d been shoving them into for so long. (Yes, I’m using the word casts in the sense of a cast you might get on a broken arm. Your shoe has a similar affect on your foot as a cast on your arm—they both immobilize the bone and fascial structure. Think about that next time you put your shoes on! But luckily, there are ways to reverse the issues that shoes can create.)
Throwing off the Pointy-Toed Shackles and Fixing the Damage
Fast forward to 2013—I still love fashion, but I’m no longer a slave to it. I wear what works for me, and what works for me today is comfort and health first and fashion second. That means I choose to wear comfortable footwear and it’s dramatically changed my feet as well as the rest of my body.
I started wearing Vibrams almost five years ago, and they did a great job helping me correct my pronated ankles, but my toes still slanted inward.
In 2012 I took a three-day workshop with Marie-José Blom that focused on the feet and their relationship to the spine and pelvis. This workshop completely changed my perspective and opened my eyes to just how important feet are to total body health.
Marie-José’s workshop was so full of valuable information that I repeated it in March of this year, and this is where I learned about Correct Toes™ and the need to re-establish the proper spacing and alignment of your toes.
Correct Toes™ are like comfortable braces for your toes, and they work to reverse the misalignment that is created from wearing shoes that push your feet into unnatural shapes. They’re made out of a very flexible medical-grade silicon and feel great to wear.
In April I decided to try consistently wearing the Correct Toes™ to see what would happen. Even though I did expect positive changes, I was still surprised. They’ve actually helped me correct some of the negative side effects all those hours of pointy-toed shoe wearing had on my body.
I now have small spaces between my toes when I’m barefoot. I can also spread my toes easily and feel the floor with my feet. This may not sound like such a big deal, but these very basic things were difficult for me before.
Better Toe Alignment Equals Better Proprioception
Proprioception refers to your ability to sense your body and its various parts in relation to other parts in space. Think of closing your eyes and touching your two index fingers in front of your nose. Your proprioceptive sense helps you do that.
By focusing on my feet the way I have, I’ve improved my proprioceptive senses, and it’s completely changed how walking and running feel. I have a better sense of my connection to the ground under my feet and the alignment of my body.
My balance is also better and don’t even get me started on how it’s enhanced my Pilates practice, because I’ll talk your ears off!
Correcting my feet and ankles hasn’t happened overnight. It’s been a slow process that has required consistency as well as shifting my perception of what is fashionably acceptable.
I still express myself through my footwear, but now that I understand how foot health affects whole-body health, I will never go back to the pointy-toed shoe world, even if it might be “beautiful.”
I plan to live a long life of service, and I’ve got a lot of work to do—I need healthy feet contributing to a healthy body to do that! How about you?
Yours in healthy feet,