American environmentalist Roger Tory Peterson once said, “Birds have wings; they’re free; they can fly where they want when they want. They have the kind of mobility many people envy.” When I read this quote, I couldn’t help but fixate on the word, mobility. My inquisitive nature prompted me to search a dictionary for an ‘official’ definition. According to the McMillan Dictionary, ‘mobility’ means the ability to move and walk normally… the ability to travel from one place to another. It means that you are not stationary, forced to remain in one place; but, that you can go from one area to another. You can go where you want, when you want. Mobility means the ability to move around. Of course in today’s society we are immersed in a world riddled with ‘mobility’ in a variety of translations: businesses, social graces, wealth and the onslaught of technology. But, we’ll save those definitions for another time. Let’s focus our attention back on the rudimentary definition of ‘mobility.’ As human beings, most of us have two feet that function as our primary source of mobility. According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. That’s the equivalent of several miles. They all add up to about 115,000 miles in a lifetime. That’s like walking around the world four times! What’s also important to note is that with each step we take, we place our entire body weight onto our feet. This fact alone makes them prone to injuries. In fact, there are over 25,000 foot/ankle related injuries reported each day in the United States. You may be thinking, “I haven’t had a foot injury, but now that I think about it, my feet are uncomfortable from time to time. Well, okay, I’ll admit that they do sometimes downright hurt.” Don’t feel alone…foot pain is very common. About 75% of people in the United States have foot pain at some time in their lives. Most foot pain is caused by shoes that do not fit properly or that force our feet into unnatural shapes (such as pointed-toe, high-heeled shoes). Our foot is very dynamic and changes with every step as we walk or run. Our feet may lengthen by one and a half shoe sizes and widen by a full width when we put weight on them. The total part of our foot in contact with the shoe or the ground can increase 30% to 60% when we put our full weight on our feet from a non-weight bearing position. Since our shoes are static, they are unable to expand and contract the way our feet do. Blisters, pressure points, calluses, sore feet, heel pain and other conditions can therefore result. Don’t feel embarrassed either if you’ve experienced any type of foot problem. A recent survey conducted by the Institute for Preventative Foot Health (IPFH) shows that nearly 80 percent of people ages 21 and older have had at least one problem with their feet. And among people who said they were currently having a foot problem, 59% said that they had gone to see a specialist to address it. I bet you didn’t realize the significance our foot health’s direct relationship to our daily routines did you? Or perhaps, let me rephrase it this way…do you take your feet for granted more times than not? Don’t be ashamed…I’m right there with you. What’s important to recognize, though, is the fact that our feet are a reflection of our general health. Conditions like arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in our feet. In other words, foot ailments may be the first sign of a more serious underlying medical problem. Wow, you’re still with me…that’s great! Let’s continue talking about our feet and their functional impact on our varying degrees of mobility. We all know that exercise is an important component to wellness regimens. Most exercises, sports and activities do involve our feet. According to the IPFH survey, the five biggest exercise-related activities reported by people to cause foot pain include running and/or jogging, hiking, basketball, walking for fitness purposes and dancing. Meanwhile, the biggest leisure-related activity that led to sore feet was shopping.
What’s important to note here is the anatomy of our feet, more specifically their fat pads. When we are born, we have plump, fat pads on our feet (located just behind the balls of our feet and on our heels) that act as cushion. As we age, the density of those pads dissipates. Again, don’t feel ignorant as 83% of people aren’t aware of their fat pads thinning unless someone shares that information with them. It is therefore important that we make every conscious effort necessary to not only protect our feet, but be proactive in our overall foot health care. Here are some steps (no pun intended) that we can take toward increased mobility: Be diligent in our foot care regimen. It should be preventative in nature and go far beyond keeping our feet pretty. Be sure to include cleansing, moisturizing, basic grooming and hygiene. Take the time to purchase a pedicure kit, or keep a pumice stone in our shower. Use the right cream for keeping the skin on your feet soft. Make foot care a part of our daily lives. It’s really no different from brushing and flossing our teeth. If you haven’t already done so, try a pair of Thorlos clinically tested padded foot protection (socks). Thorlos are available in a performance line that offers protection for feet that do not hurt as well as a separate, activity specific line for feet that do hurt. Its engineered padding has been clinically shown to reduce foot conditions by absorbing impact, reduce friction and pressures on the feet, it also has been shown to move moisture away from the foot—important because excessive moisture is a catalyst for blisters, athlete’s foot and other fungal and bacterial infections. Make sure your shoes fit properly. Thorlos has created a self-fitting protocol https://www.thorlo.com/why-thorlos/fitting-thorlos that when followed precisely will result in an experience of comfort that only your feet can affirm: Experience the comfort benefit of Thorlos through a free pair* https://www.thorlo.com/free-sock-offer/page_home. While we may not be able to ‘fly like an eagle’-great Steve Miller Band song- with proper care and protection, our feet can afford us the opportunity to experience its nobility and mobility. *$4.90 shipping and handling fee