Put your best foot forward: How caring for your feet affects your body and workplace health

“Your feet and toes must be kept healthy. … Proper alignment is like an email address — if one letter is off, the entire message is compromised.”

It’s important to put your best foot forward right? In order to do that, let’s take a closer look at our actual feet.

1. A firm foundation

Any house that’s constructed starts with the foundation. And the foundation of an organization or company is the mission statement – the crux of what it does. In the same way, your feet are the base for your entire body and hold a lot of weight (pun intended). Your feet are the first to step out in any direction, and therefore, movement is a strong characteristic of strong feet.

In 1017 AD, Chinese doctor Wang Wei documented the importance of the feet in treating imbalances and disease. He often noted that the feet were the most sensitive part of the body and contained great energizing areas. Although a form of foot therapy was used in Central Europe during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the knowledge of Chinese energy medicine and acupuncture were not recognized by the West until 1883, when Dutch doctor Ten Tyne discovered a scientific basis for reflexology.

According to studies in reflexology and acupuncture, Chi needs to flow throughout every part of the body. Therefore, your feet and toes must be kept healthy, so they can move with strength and flexibility. This allows the body’s structural foundation to be strong and stable.

For better or worse, lifestyles have changed since the early 1900s. Many of our six-hundred-plus muscles are now underused or unemployed. We must get all of our muscles back to work; however, good health is more than possessing an active, strong, flexible, and balanced body. It also involves actively gathering information to help us make healthy choices on a holistic level.

Instead of thinking of the feet as just extremities, we would all do well to begin viewing them as both an integral and foundational part of our overall health. Similarly, when problems arise in an organization, we often need to go back to the basics and see where issues may be growing from the roots and affecting the entire structure.

2. Circulation

Just as communication is key to keeping an organization healthful and full of life, feet provide a key part of circulation (or communication) for the body. When feet and toes are healthy, they move with strength and flexibility, allowing the body’s structural formation to be strong and stable.

Toes actually act as our second heart. If we wear shoes that bind our feet and minimize toe movement, our second heart will not be able to function well. Anybody remember the 80s trend of sporting tennis shoes with pantyhose and power suits? There might have actually been a deeper reason for that.

A pointed-toe shoe may be in fashion and fine to wear in moderation. At the end of the day, what’s more important – fashion or good health? Therefore, considering what types of shoes we wear on a daily basis is a practical decision that can affect our overall health, in and out of the workplace.

Feet are also a very important source of blood circulation. With the force of gravity, the process of getting blood circulated to the feet is easy, but how is the body able to circulate blood against gravity from your feet back up to your heart? The answer is the movement of your toes! You can feel muscles of your feet, calves, thighs, and pelvis when your toes move, lifting up and down and spreading wide. You might not be a twinkle toes pro, but keeping your toes moving regularly is essential for heart health.

3. Proper placement and posture

Every employee provides a skill set to an organization and eventually finds the best fit within its overall function. In much the same way, proper posture, beginning with the placement of feet, is vital to overall health.

The position of your feet resting under your body whether standing or sitting is actually very important for alignment. When standing still, your feet should be facing forward, firmly planted, with your body weight evenly distributed. Think of your body as standing or sitting tall versus slumping or sinking down in a chair. When walking, the feet are at their best when instead of a typical heel-to-toe motion, one places the ball of the foot down first, then rolls back to the heel. Also, remember to keep feet pointing forward, as opposed to turning outward or inward.

Interestingly, our posture can affect not only how we feel but even how we think. If our alignment is off, we aren’t getting the messages coming through our bodies and blood, moving through our brains for optimum creativity and problem-solving. From the feet up to the head, proper posture is imperative. The “tech neck” is something almost everyone suffers from today. Keeping the head up when reading and scrolling through social media feeds can alleviate pressure on muscles. When focusing on your computer screen at work, the computer screen should be level with your line of vision to reduce neck stress. In addition to promoting an aura of confidence, good posture also contributes to a positive mental attitude. And who doesn’t need a little help with that on a long workday?

  • So what can you do to improve your foot health and in turn, better your workplace health?
  • Get up and move – don’t sit for extended periods of time. Walk away from your desk once an hour.
  • Uncross your legs for better circulation. Ladies, think “duchess slant.” Besides having an aesthetically pleasing effect by making limbs look elongated, it’s also heart smart for circulation.
  • Wiggle your toes and stretch your legs throughout the day to increase circulation.
  • Consider swapping out high heels for “sensible” shoes for at least part of the day.
  • Utilize a standing desk or elevate your computer screen to a proper level for your eyes and neck.

The above steps are small changes that produce larger results. Proper alignment, from head to toe, is like an email address — if one letter is off, the entire message is compromised.

Being aware of your body and its movements on a daily basis, and making a few adjustments now, can help to minimize health issues down the road and optimize workplace well-being!

Alice Ann Dailey, M.S., began her career as an elementary school classroom music and piano teacher. Her teaching career transitioned into physical fitness, and she became the first Pilates teacher in Dallas, Texas. She owned a successful exercise studio for two decades, Oasis Mind-Body Conditioning Center, and later taught PE Pilates at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Her mission in writing Dailey Strengthening: 6 Keys to Balance Core Muscles for Optimal Health is to provide the information she has learned from her students and her own self-healing experiences so that others may create a plan to maintain their body, mind, and spirit in good health.