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The Tensegrity Arch
Your foot hundreds of integrated arches. The whole of the foot forms something of a dome. It is an incredible design for distributing force. It is one of the greatest engineering marvels ever created. Roman bridges still stand as a testament to this incredible structure. The human body is engineered in a similar way. You are capable of distributing incredible forces thanks to the arches which permeate our structure.
Tensegrity arches create a fluid structure throughout your body. Your pelvis is a circle. The sacrum has smaller circles and our joints are likewise circular. You are composed of arches and overlapping circular distributions of force that spiral and travel in waves throughout your body. The spine, rather than being a column, is snakelike and can be supported by muscle independently of gravity. You have several different types of connective tissue and muscle that not only helps you to hold a position, but also make you flexible enough to distribute incredible forces.
Your feet act as feelers to maintain a fluid alignment throughout the body. 7,000 nerve endings in each human foot communicate with the rest of the body. They also play a role in blood circulation and keep motion traveling smoothly through your body. The foot is to your physical structure what your tongue is to your digestion. Your feet serve as sensors. As your foot bends in one direction, a chain reaction moves through the entire body. Padding your feet too much does little to stop the impact, but it does serve to blind your feet. The end result is that you are taking forces at up to ten times your body weight with only an inch of padding to save you. This sends a zigzag shock wave to your ankles, knees, lumbar vertebrae and neck. This is particularly problematic if you have extra weight and reduced circulation, making it harder for damaged joints to heal.
This is why many people don’t feel like exercising. It isn’t laziness so much as intelligence. Imagine getting smashed with a baseball bat at forces up to ten times your body weight. Even with an inch of padding around the bat, it wouldn’t take long before anyone might prefer a sedentary lifestyle. Your true shock absorbers are not the padding in your shoes or your cartilage. You are not designed to bounce on these things while moving with stiff legs. You are designed to have shock waves travel freely through you.. If you are making noise while walking you are causing internal damage. Walk softly. Breathe softly. Human beings are hidden foragers and silent killers. The way we evolved to hunt, forage and survive is based on silence. Moving well is based on relaxation. The is the secret behind movement. There is no replacement for good movement. With the correct movement, bare feet are sufficient for running. With the wrong technique, expensive shoes won’t save you. It doesn’t matter how many springs, air pockets or doodads they add.
In Born to Run, Christopher McDougal sheds light on the modern myth of running shoes. He writes, “Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet and had a much lower incidence of knee injuries.”
Dr. Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has been studying the growing injury crisis in the developed world for some time and has come to a startling conclusion: “A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems.”
Don’t throw out your sneakers just yet. Until the feet are strong enough, the support will be necessary. According to Michael McCourt, a podiatrist in Eugene, Oregon, being overweight can cause increased ankle pronation. He explains that being overweight causes anterior pelvic tilt, otherwise known as lordosis. In addition, carrying more weight requires people to have a 30% wider stance. Given the angle, this makes heavier people more susceptible to over pronation. If a person’s stance is already compromised, it makes no sense to begin running or doing squats when proper alignment will be all but impossible to achieve.
The first step is to perfect the arch and strengthen it slowly. Most city blocks in China house at least one foot massage clinic. In fact, this is the most prevalent use of Chinese medicine in China. It is a matter of practicality rather than luxury. If your ankle, knee and spine problems are massaged and cracked into place, what use is it, if every step undermines your treatment? It makes more sense to work first with your foundation。
Many people find relief from complex alignment issues through foot soaks and massage. You begin by soaking your feet in a hot herbal infusion to improve circulation, soften the feet, and reduce inflammation. Then you get a rather intense massage. Each of those 7,000 nerves in the foot will be singing. Then your feet, suddenly seem like two living fish instead of chunks of ice. The joints of your foot move in ways you never thought possible. You get up, take a few steps, and your back pain feels better. This is mainly because the treatment has reestablished your body’s primary feeler and shock absorber. When the foot is communicating with the rest of the body, the arches distribute forces up and through the body in a series of fluid spirals rather than slamming into your joints and crushing your bones against one another. A lot of chronic pain comes down to stiff feet.
Exercise: Foot Massage
Start by soaking your feet in warm water for 15–20 minutes, and increase the temperature until your veins are bulging out and your foot begins to soften. Your blood vessels will relax and expand due to nitric oxide, and your blood will start transferring the heat evenly throughout your body. The fresh blood nourishes, heals, and softens the foot. This same process helps to regulate the distribution of nitric oxide which can burn fat, balance the gut microbiome and alleviate pain.
Once your feet are soft you can have a friend massage them. If you don’t have someone who can help massage your feet, then put some smooth rocks into the bucket. As you sit, you can press downward on the rocks for an easy massage.
 Use smooth stones and common sense.
Foot Health For Long Term Athletics by Andrew Miles & Xuelan Qiu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at enlightenweight.com.