Dear One: I have been paying more attention to my ankles recently. What’s the connection between ankles and orthotics? Read on!

I am a little embarrassed when I think back and remember how determined I was to get orthotics and furthermore, to be sure that the insurance company would pay for them. I smiled to myself when the podiatrist said, “Yes, I think orthotics will help. Let’s order you some.” Done and Done.

I knew this would help my walking power, which is very important to me. I loved the feeling of that firm rounded platform holding up my arch. Hidden away in my funky tie up shoes I felt that I had scored a big win.

So I was really surprised when I began to read again and again that my orthotics might not be the best thing since wonder bread. What? Don’t you dare take my orthotics away!

What Do Orthotics Do? 

What in the world could be wrong with orthortics? Here’s what I learned: the arch of your foot needs to be strong on its own. And, it is no surprise that your foot is connected to your ankles.

Even if you have flat feet – like I do – and it doesn’t look like there’s much of an arch, chances are you have enough of an arch to do the job. I wondered how I could strengthen my arch. Was it possible? I know that I tend to be an all or nothing kind of gal, but that just wasn’t going to work for me in this case. I had to go slowly. Step by step.

The Ankle Bone Connects to the Foot Bone

Today I am starting with my ankles because feet and ankles work together. They are inseparable, right?

I listened to my mentors and their dire warnings: Do not throw your orthotics away. Helping your feet through a recovery process takes time, caution, and awareness of what your feet need. It’s a long, slow process and it could take years.

After all, how many years did you devote to being sure your feet were tied up in sneakers or other fun shoes? Your ankles are designed to be supported by your arches. When I take out the artificial arch support, my foot pronates and my ankle is likely to collapse inward. Here’s a visual:

Esther Max: Motion Control Technology

 

I am now in the midst of strengthening my feet, mobilizing my ankles, and recovering my arches’ natural abilities. 

 

I walk barefoot in my house for some time each day.

I pay attention to how I set each foot down – this is called your gait pattern. Ideally, I see my feet as a tripod. All three points – the heel and each side of the ball of the foot—must touch the floor.First the heal touches down.

Next, I feel for the outer edge of my foot as my foot lands on the floor. Feeling for the outer edge of the foot helps me reverse the pronation that my foot will habitually offer. Emphasizing the outer edge of the foot helps me do the opposite of pronation, which is supination. Then I move over to the inside ball of my foot and press forward by pushing off with my big toe.

I frequently laugh to myself because I feel like I am learning to walk all over again! I remember clearly the first time I went for a walk in my neighborhood without my orthotics in my sneakers. It was strange. My leg muscles seemed to be working harder and my feet didn’t see the same.

Observing My Gait

Now, months later, I feel much better, but I still spend a fair amount of time observing my gait: walking with my feet straight, beginning with weight on my heel, attempting to reverse my habitual pronation, and then pushing off with the toe. Somewhere in the middle of that motion, the other foot begins its movement.

Walking is not as simple as it seems.

This video is deceptively simple, but so supportive for ankle mobility, which means more mobility and stability for your whole body.

Again, you can do it while sitting on a chair and drinking your coffee or tea. This funny little ankle motivator will help you upgrade your walk.

Please give it a try and let me know what you learned about your ankles.   Love and Gratitude,  AnnMerle

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