Flexibility and mobility are always important, but they are even more so in today’s fast-paced world. Think of how much walking you do in a day and you’re sure to be reminded of how important it is to be able to move
around easily. This is particularly true if you live a very active, athletic lifestyle, which would involve plenty of jogging and running and other physical activities — all with a higher intensity than normal. Speed and endurance are primary concerns there, and so it is not difficult to see how crucial it is that an athlete’s legs and feet be able to for the needed mobility.
However, even non-athletes have to ensure the health of their limbs. Even the simplest tasks entail getting a lot of use out of one’s legs and feet. Simply getting around the house is already a vital task that would be made impossible if your mobility were impaired. Imagine getting to the bus or train, getting on and off, and getting to work or school. It would be incredibly difficult and inconvenient, not to mention slow, if we could not do so to the same level of capability we normally could. We often overlook just how much we need to use our legs and feet to do very basic things, but once the problems come up we can’t think about anything else.
Our Muscles at Work
Our lower bodies deal with a lot of work on a daily basis, as the parts of our body below the waist have the unenviable task of carrying and mobilizing all the considerable weight of our upper bodies. Our knees flex in a range of motion that allows them to raise and lower and ambulate the upper body, bear the brunt of landings and jumps, and so on. Our ankles are the next area of concern, as they contribute to that movement but with much less physical real estate. And then there’s the rest of the foot — our heel, or calcaneus, as well as the toes, or phalanges, are the landing pads that we strike the ground with.
Choosing the Right Foot Gear
Unfortunately, even when we plan and try to keep our feet healthy, our footwear often gets in the way — literally. Most dress shoes are designed with a heel lift, which places undue stress on the rest of the foot. Even a small rise could be trouble, especially when the increased stress and angle are multiplied by the number of steps taken or the distance traveled! Shoes, after all, all change the way our feet are structures — in subtle ways to give us the ability to take and hold certain stances. While some sports shoes are now designed after the goal to be healthier for feet, a lot of formal footwear doesn’t place comfort high on its priority list for design considerations.
Shoes are Not Enough, Get the Best Sports Socks!
Many results can come about when the shoes are not designed with due consideration for the feet, or when our foot strength is not up to par. Tightness in the ankles and calves comes from a rise in tension that is caused by weak foot muscles, particularly in the ankle area. Additionally, collapsed arches are a very real danger brought on by low midfoot mobility. Both of these cause pain that can start from being minimal and merely annoying but can grow to intense and unavoidable. These and many other issues should be dealt with and not downplayed if one’s mobility is to not be compromised.
One thing we can do to improve how these muscles develop is stretching. Done correctly, stretching loosens up tight muscle groups and increases flexibility in key muscle areas. This is why warm-ups for most sports, from the leg-intensive running to ones that might not immediately bring legs to mind like tae kwon do and powerlifting, usually involve stretching, particularly in the leg area. Stretching is often a simple but effective way to prevent knotted muscles, poor flexibility and injury.
Compression Sports Socks to Build Stronger Feet
Another thing to keep in mind is the potential benefit of compression wear. Compression clothing has been around for a long time, usually designed as a spandex/nylon blend that stretches but tightly binds muscles and body parts. Compression socks or stockings work in such a way that they press more on the lower leg and offer less pressure as they go up the leg, controlling and directing blood flow. This is why they have long been popular for those with circulation problems, such as those with varicose veins. These also tend to be popular choices for those whose travel or work requires them to be on their feet all day.
While studies are inconclusive on the actual scientific benefit of compression socks, they aren’t quick to rule them out either. Just as notably, negative effects have also not been established in studies. Aside from already being a full other layer of protection for the leg, the snugness of compression socks’ tight fit usually feels very comfortable and reinforcing on the legs. This allows for runners and walkers alike to stride more confidently and more purposefully. Some compression socks, like CopperJoint running socks, even infuse the compression fabric with copper fibers, leveraging the traditionally-understood benefits of copper to create socks. One of these key benefits is preventing or easing swelling and inflammation, which is one way the body’s natural responses to injury and pain can go too far. As such, socks like these can serve a variety of purposes, including helping build a strong and flexible foot.
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