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Best Foot Forward: How Caring For Your Feet Will Benefit Your Life

Best Foot Forward: How Caring For Your Feet Will Benefit Your Life

Our feet carry a lot of weight. They carry our bodies throughout our entire lives. We can neglect caring for them correctly. Having the occasional pedicure is not enough. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have the physical ability to walk we need to do more. Caring for your feet will benefit your life.

Feet are the first parts of our bodies to age and when our feet are unhealthy, it can impact our general well being. Foot ailments can prevent us from staying limber and fit and this can affect our fitness and health. Despite their distance from our hearts, the condition of our feet can impact our health in quite serious ways . In fact, it is probably because they are so far from our heart that they need special care. Sometimes the necessary oxygen rich blood required for our feet to function well does not get to our feet properly for various reasons. It may be due to poor circulation or unhealthy vessels and this can cause a lot of damage to feet.

Feet are very complicated body parts.

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“Together, your two feet contain more than 50 bones, accounting for about one-fourth of all the bones in your body. And somehow they also make room for more than 60 joints and 200 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold them together and help them move.” Eric Metcalf MPH, Everyday Health

It is not surprising that so much can go wrong with feet, considering their complexity and the amount of work they do. Walking, standing, running and carrying excessive weight can damage our feet over time. Suffocating them in ill fitting shoes or high heels, neglecting our toe nails and common conditions like diabetes can also have adverse effects on feet. If our feet are unhealthy and not working optimally, we end up leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and this is one of the leading causes of disease.

There are many common ailments that can impact our feet. As we age our feet change shape and deteriorate and we can experience fallen arches or ‘flat feet’. This condition is often associated with osteoarthritis; a degenerative disease that can afflict the aged. Other issues like cracked heels, hard nails, sores, ulcers, corns and warts can all develop over time if we don’t look after our feet.

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Looking after our feet can easily become a daily ritual and doesn’t have to break the bank. We can do most things at home with little to no cost and just having awareness about the condition of our feet and then addressing the issue can put us on the road to healing and maintaining life long foot health.

These six ways to care for our feet are a step in the right direction:

Yoga

Yoga is beneficial for our entire body, but it can be particularly helpful for strengthening the muscles and tendons in our feet. Foot yoga poses include those that require conscious spreading of our toes and even distribution of weight across the entire foot. Many common yoga postures depend upon this and when we practice perfecting these poses we learn to balance our body weight over the space of our feet entirely. This knowledge and expertise can then become a daily habit and just standing in a queue or on public transport doesn’t have to become painful and tiring.

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We start to understand how to hold our body upright using all of our muscles and releasing some of the force and pressure that inevitably ends up on our feet. We tend to use our skeleton to hold up our bodies; yoga teaches us to use our muscles to hold up our skeleton, which is more efficient and low impact. Poor posture, slouching, swinging our hip and throwing our weight to one side only can cause uneven distribution of body weight which can strain our muscles and tendons. Yoga teaches us to strengthen our core by holding in our stomachs and lifting our pelvic floor. When we unlock our knees and honor the natural curve of our spine we achieve strength and balance. This in turn relieves our feet and causes realignment of our entire body.

Massage

Nothing is more soothing than a good foot massage. Reflexology massage of the feet has many benefits and can alleviate pain and discomfort, improve circulation and soften the skin and nails with the use of a good massage oil or cream. These days there are many therapists that can provide a professional service, but we can do this at home easily too. Some claim that the feet are a map to the entire body and massaging them can reach pressure points that will influence various organs in the body. The research is not conclusive, but improving circulation, stimulating blood flow and relaxing the tendons and muscles of the feet can certainly improve foot health as well as general well being.

Bathing

A good foot soak can work wonders to relax the entire body at the end of the day. Hydrating our feet will not only soften the nails and skin to prevent bunions, corns, cracked heels and ingrown toe nails; it can also reduce the bacteria build up associated with foot odor and athlete’s foot. For some, showering daily is enough, but particularly if our feet are in closed shoes and socks all day, if the feet are trapped in gym shoes while exercising and are sweating excessively or if we wear high heels or ill fitting shoes all day, a daily foot soak or foot spa will undo some of the damage we may be causing.

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Scrubbing dry skin

Having dry and cracked skin on your feet, particularly the heels can be a cosmetic problem or it can become a more serious medical issue and cause infection. Daily care of the skin on our feet can become part of our usual routine and doesn’t have to be a burden. Just scrubbing the skin with a pumice stone and applying a good quality foot cream may be enough. More serious ailments can be assessed by a podiatrist and treated accordingly.

Going barefoot

The latest fad of going ‘Earthing’ or walking barefoot in nature is not just something for hippies. Early scientific research has shown that connecting with the earth directly on our bare skin has many health benefits. Drawing electrons directly into our bodies from the earth is shown to improve sleep and reduce pain. Walking around barefoot on the soil, grass and sand feels good for a reason. It reconnects us to the forces that our modern lifestyle has become separate from and can reduce the stress that we place on our feet daily. We can even go one step further and do yoga barefoot on the ground and really amp up the positive effects.

Wearing good shoes

Although it is much more comfortable to be barefoot, we do need to wear shoes for the most part to protect our feet and conform to societal norms. Wearing shoes for fashion can sometimes force us to abuse our feet. Podiatrist Dr William Knudson discusses the importance of wearing proper fitting and good quality shoes in order to make sure our feet don’t suffer unnecessarily. Making sure the shoes we wear are the correct size and provide appropriate support depending on the activity we are doing can greatly assist us to look after our feet and ensure optimum health.

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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