Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 492(262) Feet

"If you take care of your feet your feet will take care of you".  Whenever I say that my wife and my grandchildren roll their eyes. I usually don't say it around anyone else. Feet are something we do not talk about. Try to visualize a TV commercial that uses feet as a sex symbol to sell cars, refrigerators, or trips to Hawaii. It just rarely if ever happens, Of course my quote about feet is easily transferred to other parts of the body. "If you take care of your hands..., take care of your back...take care of your teeth... It never ends.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I recently read an article in the local paper that surprised me. It was about feet. Now in order to grab the readers attention the article included a bit about women and high heals. You can imagine the picture that accompanied the article. A beautiful woman's leg and her foot set in a spiked red high healed shoe.

In all honesty the article did warn about the danger and damage done by wearing such things. But the thrust of the piece was about the lack of attention we give our feet and what we can do to change.

It is not often that we go into health clubs or exercise groups and find any attention paid to the feet. This is probably why we see so many people limping down the side walk. My mother always use to say, "They walk lame". I'm always amazed whenever I count how many people have trouble walking down the street. I have counted before but I have no studies or data to support my findings. I've even forgotten what I counted but I remember being amazed.

My attention became more focused on this issue about 15 years ago when I damaged my sciatic nerve. It runs down from the spine to the tip of the toes. I was in real pain. Doctors and physical therapist worked on me to no avail. A special facility that focused on back pain saved me. Thai Chi was the method used. It worked.

My foot would not track when I walked. "Wandering foot" one doctor called it. It would just trail off out of control with each step. It never seemed to point the same way twice. I "walked lame" for several years. I always fought it and I have always worked at overcoming it. And I have.

The Thai Chi took care of the bad back with constant practice. I still do the Thai Chi each and every day. It feels good; real good. As for the foot; it came back in line but has  required special attention. Daily consciousness of trying to straighten it and the lower leg has become habitual. Slowly an arch has been redeveloped and strengthened.

Power continues to return to the leg; especially the lower leg and foot. My wife has heard me exclaim all too often as we peddle away from the house on most days, "Wow! It's like I have a new leg". Changes occur ever so slowly but they continue.

My latest effort to help the feet and my balance is in the form of a Bosu ball. These things that look like half of a ball attached to a wooden circular platform has exceeded my expectations. It isn't easy to start but improvement comes quickly. I've just used it for balancing so far which becomes very important as we grow older.

It is amazing the muscles that we have in our body that we seem to never use. Then of course we compensate with other or we slump, limp, or restrict our range of motion, Through non-use we let some muscles atrophy or just disappear.

Walking is touted as one of the best forms of general physical fitness. It does our heart good, our entire circulatory system and our entire skeletal muscular system. It requires feet.  

There are several exercises we can do for our feet that might help us to still enjoy a stroll around the block. You can discover exercises on your own. The best thing you can do is become more aware of what your walking on. Our conscious mind needs to go our feet often. We can feel the bones. We can feel the muscles. We can move the muscles  independent of one another - if we try. We can feel them come alive. We can do this while sitting, walking or lying in bed at night. I'm not advocating for a foot fetish. I'm just saying we need to pay attention.

The first step in changing our habits is becoming aware. We need more thought and talk about our faithful feet.  Improved walking, balance and a general feeling of well being are worthy of note.

A friend of ours forty odd years ago commented about how much pleasure the simple act of brushing our teeth brought to each and every day. You just have to let the thought pass through your mind while you brush. The same can be said about washing the feet.  On days when a shower does not come in the later part of the day my wife and I like to treat our feet as well as our teeth. If it is time to brush our teeth it is time to wash our feet. It is such a pleasure.

You just have to remember, "If you take care of your feet your feet will take care of you".

This is Retirement Talk.

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