My shoes treat me real good when no one’s around…

Listen, honey, I’m really not trying to break you guys up. They aren’t what I would choose for you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for you. Everyone’s different and what I really want is for you to be happy. But are you happy? Hmm?

That’s what I’ve been worried about. I wish you could see your feet the way I see them. They’re so capable. So intuitive and perfect. And smart. Like bony little brains at the ends of your legs. (Not like that. That’s creepy). But SMART. Like you, sweetie.

Yes! Like that! Want to know who else is smart? William A. Rossi, D.P.M. He wrote a very smart article about why you deserve more than those stilettos. You should read it. He has important things to tell you.

But William and I know you’re busy and we don’t want to take up too much of your time, so let’s just chat a little now while we’re all together. Sit. Relax. Put your feet here where I can rub them.

There we go, that’s better. Now, here are some things William and I want to talk to you about, because we care about you and want what’s best for you:

First of all, your feet have always been very sensitive, which is a thing we love about them. They have over 200,000 nerve endings in their soles and toe pads. They’re so in touch with things. So grounded and adaptable…or they were. Since you’ve been meeting up with this thick-soled, high-heeled, rigid crowd, you’ve been a bit muffled – a bit removed. And who could blame you? All wrapped up like they’ve been, 50-65% of your feet’s tread has been lost. Lost! I was going to say stolen, but William reeled me in. I get upset, I can’t help it. It seems like less and less of you is really making contact. Remember when you used to be able to sense whether the ground under your feet was soft or hard, even or uneven, level or sloped? Nothing got past you. You were so quick! And you’d adjust your gait and posture to adapt to the terrain in a flash. I couldn’t have been more proud. These days the little bits of you that are still noticing the ground through all that foam can’t tell a dirt road from a grassy field. The ground misses you, is all we’re saying. It misses you. Some good conversations, maybe a coffee cake every now and again, that’s all it asks. Is it too much?

You know we love you and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but since we’re talking about it at last I feel we have to tell you something.  You’ve been off-balance and less flexible since you’ve been running (and walking and standing) with that built-up, strait-laced crowd. I remember when your heels were level with your toes, which allowed the anterior tilt of your pelvis to be a correct and healthy 25 degrees.  I remember when the ball of your planted foot flexed to 52 degrees with each forward stride. Sigh. Those were the good old days, weren’t they? Your lumbar spine had a soft natural curve atop your stable pelvis. Your Achilles tendon and calf muscles were long and happy. Your ankle and knee weren’t forced to overcompensate for your over-restricted feet and your thighs and hips weren’t making up for your stifled calves.  These days we hardly ever see you when your pelvis isn’t tipped to at least 30 degrees. And that one day you came over in those clogs with the 3-inch heels! Your pelvis was tipped to 60 degrees. 60! I thought I’d die. And so stiff, honey! Why, the flex at the ball of your foot is routinely reduced by 30-80%. Why don’t you want to bend your toes anymore, sweetie? I’m worried that those shoes have limited and restricted you for so long you’ve lost your ability to move through your natural range. They’re very controlling.

And what is going on with this “toe spring” that your new friends are so into? That’s not how your toes go, honey. Your toes were good just the way they were made, level with your heel and ball, in touch with the ground. For goodness sake, you’re not a rocking horse, sweetheart. I know, since your feet can’t bend in the stiff little cages you’ve taken to putting them in, they have to just roll their way forward a bit and then be picked up and replaced ahead of you. Your hip flexors haven’t moved into full extension in an age. William says you might as well hang an out-of-business sign on your toes (he didn’t say it quite like that, he’s very soft spoken and polite, but that’s what he meant). With your toes flying skyward they can’t grip. They can’t push off. So now your heels are up off the ground and your toes are up off the ground – that puts a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet. A lot of pressure. I’m just saying…

I could go on, but William says it so much better than I could. He’s a foot expert, you know. You’ll read his article. Or this New York magazine article. Or both, because we know what a good reader you are.

And I’m here to help you anytime you want. Just ask. It’s not easy to get back on your bare feet after you’ve been in a relationship with such authoritative shoes for so long. Come over soon and I’ll do some more rubbing. Also, consider trying these exercises. Your feet can be strong and independent again – which isn’t to say they have to be on their own all the time. We’ll find you a nice adaptable shoe who will let your feet be exactly what they were made to be. Resilient, flexible, and smart.

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