Avoid Foot Injuries and Improve Performance
With all the beatings our feet take, do you ever wonder if it is possible to have happy feet? Believe it or not, the answer is yes– you can make your feet happy with toe separators. You may know these gadgets as the piece of foam used in pedicures to keep your toenails apart while they dry. It turns out they now come in many varieties, and are widely used to heal foot injuries. They are also used to prevent injury and improve foot strength. Using toe separators may improve your comfort level, posture and athletic performance. Best of all, these little gadgets are readily available and cost about $30.00 or less.
You may be asking yourself whether it’s worth investing in a set of toe separators. Here are some factors to consider. Our foot structure and form is more important than some of us realize. Most footwear forces our toes into an unnatural position. This is compounded when we wear high-heeled or tight shoes which crush our big toes against the others. To top it off, our feet take a pounding from hours of standing, walking and running. Over time, our foot form and toe alignment can be thrown off, causing a host of problems.
Because our feet take a daily beating, many of us experience foot or foot-related problems. Runner’s knee, bunions, crooked toes, corns, claw toes, plantar fasciitis and hammertoes are just some of the injuries that can result from toe compression. When your toes are not properly aligned, your tendons, nerves and joints can become inflamed and damaged. Misaligned toes can also place undue weight on the balls of your feet. How and where your foot hits the pavement each time you step affects your hips, knees, lower back, joints, bones and tendons.
It’s easy to take for granted that our toes and feet will do what we need them to do on a daily basis. Most of us probably haven’t spent a lot of time pondering the importance of foot form. You might not have realized that spreading your toes out helps your posture, balance and athleticism. Toe separators can realign your toes, thus allowing your muscles to better activate when you are walking or running. This will prevent a host of injuries, while strengthening your foot over time.
Strengthening your feet is, of course, of prime importance for athletes. Wearing toe separators while running loosens the ligaments and tendons around your toe joints. This can, in turn, improve your toe-offs and performance. The wider running surface distributes pressure better, provides a stable surface to protect vulnerable muscles and lessens fatigue. There are even upscale toe separators that release moisturizing vitamins and minerals into your skin to prevent friction, chafing and fatigue.
From fancy to no-frills, the toe separators of today come in a variety of sizes and materials. There is even the option of separate spacers you can place just on the specific toes affected. If you will wear your toe separators inside your athletic shoes, you will want to ensure your toe-box is wide enough to accommodate them. Extra shock absorption in your sneakers is always a good idea, and this is no exception.
Whether or not you are an athlete, you may prefer to wear your toe separators post-workout. If you find spacers during a workout are not for you, you can wear them any other time during the day or even overnight. Either way, starting with 20 minutes a day and building up to wearing them for longer periods is a good way to go.
Wearing toe spacers for twenty minutes or more is a small price to pay for happy feet. Having sore feet or foot injuries can negatively affect our mood, activity level and performance. In the worst of cases, it can cause pain, disfigurement and necessary surgeries. Why not make your feet happy with some toe separators. They are likely to heal or prevent most foot injuries, and to make your life more comfortable, fun and active.
Of course the main way to avoid foot injuries is to exercise regularly with proper form. In a squat, for instance, improper foot positioning increases stress to your knees, hips and lower back. If you plant your feet firmly on the floor, spread your toes and maintain floor contact with your heel, ball of the foot and outer ball of the foot you create a solid foundation. With this solid foundation you can move or lift without fear of injury.
The Personal Trainers at Golden Home Fitness can create a solid fitness plan for you, ensuring that you do each rep with proper form. You can get your FREE IN-PERSON OR VIRTUAL WORKOUT HERE. In the meantime, you can keep your toes limber by practicing lifting marbles or a towel with them, and you can invest in some toe separators. I think we can all agree that it’s much easier to be happy when we have happy feet so here’s to you getting yours!
Endnotes: health.harvard.edu; runningmagazine.ca; bustle.com; trainfora5k.com; rockay.com; bodybuilding.com