It can be safely inferred that most race car drivers don’t spend their formative years daydreaming in school about the intricacies of tire rubber. If they never learned this information, however, they may spend all of those years of practice just to have a high-speed blowout on their professional debut. Similarly, the burgeoning reflexology specialist would do well to build a foundation of knowledge in the area of, well, feet. So let’s do this right by starting at square one. Just don’t feel embarrassed if any among these foot facts happen to fascinate you – nobody else has to know.
1. Your Feet Can See
You may have heard the word “proprioception” if you have undertaken any physiology, anatomy, or reflexology courses. This is a fancy word for the stimulation of certain cells, called proprioceptors, whose job it is to relay to the brain a certain body part’s position in space. If you close your eyes, for example, how do you know what your arms are doing? Proprioceptors are measuring the stretch and angle of your muscles and letting your brain know. Our feet use this kind of feedback, assisted by the sensation of pressure they get from each step, so that we can effortlessly coordinate our movements without constantly looking down. The mindful reflexology practitioner, who is of course a natural expert in foot facts, would do well to stimulate these proprioceptors for any patient reporting balance or coordination issues.
2. Feet Are Ridiculously Strong
The following excerpt, freshly plucked from the rich annals of foot facts, is not a joke: the average person absorbs more than a hundred tons through their feet in a moderately active day. The arch of the foot acts as a spring to help absorb this impact, which, along with a healthy gait and weight, can get you through the average day without issue. Arch health is very closely correlated with the condition of the plantar fascia, which is the sheet of connective tissue that supports the arch. The following video neatly summarizes the impressive strength and rigidity-flexibility traits of the foot.
Meta-factoid coming in hot: Given the sheer intensity and frequency of impact, it is no wonder that the plantar surface of the feet, while very much integrated with sensory neurons, have relatively poor fine perception. Can you imagine walking on your lips all day? It would be far too stimulating. Reflexology practitioners need to be aware of this because it often dictates treatment parameters: pressure applied, duration, etc.
3. Neck Pain, Foot’s Fault?
Of course, we don’t have to be versed in the most obscure of foot facts to know that our feet are used to take us from one place to another. Many young and/or healthy people wake up wondering, however, why their calf, or knee, back, or even neck hurts so much (beyond soreness) after taking a long walk or hike. The budding reflexology specialist would do well to dabble in biomechanics as WELL as awesome foot facts because it is from the feet that so many of the above issues occur. Excessive ankle motion upon impact, for example, whether pronation or supination, can affect the integrity of the achilles tendon and cause pain or even achilles tendinopathy as a result. The position of our feet during the gait cycle can cause us to be bow-legged, knock-kneed, or worst of all, one of those people who hyperextends their knees when standing (if it isn’t explicit enough, DON’T DO THAT).
Asymmetries in the gait process due to foot issues can even translate to pelvic asymmetries, which can in turn create a rotoscoliosis, causing pain and dysfunction all the way up to the cranium. Sure, in this era we do not have to share the concern of our ancient ancestors whom, upon leaving their dwelling to forage for food may have bumped into a hungry wolf, but more than likely, you will need to upshift quickly at least once in your life. This is why reflexology experts need to be aware of lower extremity mechanics as well. How on earth we turned one of our foot facts into a Neolithic-era survival tip is unbeknownst to us. Amazing, but not beknownst.
4. Bipedalism: The Ultimate Hardware Upgrade
Next in our breathtaking lineup of foot facts is bipedalism. The design of our feet, not to neglect the spine, allows us to be bipedal. That’s just the scholastic way of saying we walk on two legs instead of four. The hotly contested item of human evolution, which will be gingerly tiptoed around by this author, indicates that the hominids known before homo sapiens came around were originally quadrupeds. Being bipedal offers a number of advantages that we may not think about. Being able to easily see the horizon, for example, allows us to know roughly how long we can be outside before the temperature drops. Loading weight vertically through two legs and standing upright allows us to enjoy a number of privileges, such as:
- Throwing things
- Punching people
- Reaching overhead
- Vertical leaping
The one caveat is, to the dismay of some foot facts and/or reflexology enthusiasts, that we cannot climb trees as skillfully as those quadrupedal hominids that came before us.
5. Penicillin, Vaccines, Feet?
Finally and most importantly in terms of staying out of the hospital is the role of the feet in infection prevention. When properly inspected and cared for, the thick skin on the bottom of the foot acts as a potent and reliable deterrent to pathogens. Admittedly, the following is a slightly embellished story often told to diabetic patients by their reflexology specialist and/or care team – but it can and absolutely does happen: A pebble finds its way into your shoe. You walk around all day with said pebble in your shoe. You develop a small sore on the bottom of your foot. Said sore grows every day unbeknownst to you because it was not treated and/or given time to heal. An opportunistic infection takes hold. And so a cataclysmic decline begins, often ending in severe systemic illness and amputations in those with compromised immunity. So what’s the moral of this story? Why are foot facts and reflexology trivia important? One reason why is because your feet are very effective at preventing infection, but you have to let them do their job. Inspect and care for your feet daily, and they will care for you.