Flat feet get a bad rap. They are the scapegoat of many aches and pains throughout the body, from the feet themselves to the knees, hips, back, and even the neck. But, what is rarely ever talked about is that your feet HAVE to flatten.
Your feet have to flatten for two very important reasons.
- First, your feet have to flatten in order for them to be healthy.
- Second, your feet have to flatten in order for the rest of your body to be healthy.
In other words, if your feet cannot flatten, the health of your feet as well as your ankles, knees, hips, low back, spine, neck, and shoulders will be in jeopardy.
Why is this??
The joints of your feet are lined with something called hyaline cartilage. Hyaline cartilage is a tissue that lines almost all the joints you can think of in your body, including your ankles, your knees, your hips, your shoulders, and your spine.
The health of the hyaline cartilage reflects the health of the joint overall. When it starts to wear away, you may notice that your joints start cracking or popping often. When it wears away enough, that’s what we call arthritis.
In order for hyaline cartilage to remain healthy, it needs two things:
- Force going through it
- Motion of the joint it is in
Your body naturally keeps your hyaline cartilage healthy when you squeeze your muscles and when you move around.
But, if your joints don’t move enough or if your muscles don’t squeeze enough, your hyaline cartilage can start to become less healthy, which brings me back to the health of your feet.
In order for the joints of your feet to stay healthy, they HAVE to be able to move, including making an arch and then flattening every time you take a step.
Every time you take a step, there are specific motions that happen throughout your feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine, and shoulders. In the feet, one of those motions is flattening, which means if your feet cannot flatten for whatever reason, it will start to negatively affect all of the other joints in your body.
This leads us to reason number two–your feet have to be able to flatten for the health of the rest of your body.
If your feet do not flatten, that will require other joints within your body to have to pick up more motion.
While motion is a critical component of joint health, too much motion repeated over and over again can be stressful to your joints.
Unfortunately, this is often what happens when your feet cannot flatten–you may start to feel symptomatic in other areas of your body. Your knees may ache or your back may tighten up. These are signs that those areas are stressed, but the question that remains is, “Why are they stressed?” If your feet cannot flatten, that may be a likely culprit.
So here’s the thing, flat feet when you are resting are NOT the issue. Your feet HAVE to be flat at certain times, and they have to be arched at other times. Feet that are ALWAYS flat may be an issue, and feet that are ALWAYS arched may be an issue, too.
But, your feet must flatten in order to keep up their own health as well as the health of the rest of your joints.
But if flat feet aren’t the issue, what is? More often than not, we see the bigger issue being feet that muscles of your feet are not strong and stable. In fact, this is a MAJOR issue for many of our clients when they first come in.
Nearly 20% of your skeletal muscles are responsible for controlling your feet, and yet we hardly pay any attention to them. In fact, we tend to do the exact opposite – cover them up with shoes.
Now, not all shoes are awful, but many are. That will be a post for another day, though. In the meantime, there is one thing you can do today to show your feet some love–schedule with your local Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) practitioner to have your feet evaluated.
A trained MAT® practitioner will be able to assess the function of all 50 of the muscles in your feet and figure out which ones are not working well. Then, they will be able to improve each of those muscles’ function one by one.
If you are looking for a MAT® practitioner in the Chicagoland area (including downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Palatine, Inverness, Barrington, Arlington Heights, St. Charles, Wheaton, Naperville, Lake Forest, Deerfield, and Highland Park), we would love to work with you. At Muscle Activation Schaumburg, we are certified in the highest levels of MAT®, including MATRx, MATRx Stim, and MAT® Athlete.
Your feet may be one of the most overlooked parts of your body in terms of their strength and function. If you are suffering from foot issues or have been told you have flat feet, understand that it is not a death sentence. Your feet have to be able to flatten and having feet that flatten is not a bad thing.
What can be an issue over the long term is having feet that are weak, unstable, and unable to move how they are designed. Fortunately, Muscle Activation Techniques® can quickly and effectively improve the strength and function of your feet, keeping your feet and the rest of your body healthy, strong, and moving well.
In strength and health,
Julie & Charlie