This week, I received some interesting links, one of them being a link to a page about calf stretching. You may wonder what calf stretching has to do with bunions, but according to some bunions originate from the connections to the toe out of the calf. By softening this area, your bunion pain may be eased considerably.
Although I don't suffer from bunion pain anymore due to everything I did so far to improve the condition of my feet, I'm definitely going to do this to see what effect is has on my bunions. The exercise is easy enough: have a look at the video showing how to do the exercise and/or the article explaining the exercise.
And if you'd like to know more about the theory behind this stretching exercise, get yourself a copy of the book where this exercise comes from: The Stark Reality of Stretching, by Dr. Steven Stark, a Canadian podiatrist.
Are you on a diet this month, like I am myself? Every year when the Christmas holidays are over, and everything's back to normal, I'm trying to shed a few pounds. Not by following a fancy diet, just by eating healthy and avoiding sugars and fats as much as possible.
But this year, there's an additional reason why I want to loose some weight: it's good for my feet too when I'm lean and mean! By keeping my weight under control, I'm also keeping my bunion problem under control.
You wonder how that's possible? Well, the more you weigh, the more your feet have to carry, and the more pressure you put on your joints – including the first metatarsal joint (at the base of your big toe). And it's overpressure of those joints that is one of the reasons of bunion development. In fact it's so obvious that it's strange it never occured to me before. One reason the more to watch my food intake this year!
Because often pictures tell a lot more than words, I uploaded some pictures of my feet to the site. This way you can see for yourself if there's an improvement since I started this experiment six months ago.
Also, I updated the page about the experiment results. I make it a point to rewrite this page every two months or so, to keep you informed about the effects of the combination of bunion treatments I'm trying. Last time I did this was in November 2007, so it was about time!
I really do believe in the benefits of spreading your toes as much as possible. Like you do when you're wearing flipflops/yoga sandals or yoga toes. I so strong believe that spreading my toes is good for my feet, that I'm even wearing yoga toes in bed! At first I couldn't wear them for more than an hour or so before they started to irritate me. But now I'm half way through the night before I take them off. I hope this means my joints are becoming more flexible...
However, by wearing yoga toes and flipflops you're only exercising your feet passively. You should also exercise your toes actively, by separating your big toe from your second toe, and also by putting your first two toes together and pulling them away from the other three toes. That way you'll strengthen the muscles in your feet and toes and it'll help to relax them.
I think she's right. I do the elastic band exercise a lot (# 4 on the exercise page), but I have to agree that's a quite passive one. There are a couple of active exercises on my exercise page as well, but when I come to think of it, my favorite exercises are the passive ones. I guess it's time to make some adjustments to my exercise routine...
I wish it were possible, but I know there's no way I can try every bunion treatment that I find or that is suggested to me. I picked a couple that made sense to me and want to stick to them for some time to give each a fair chance. But I'm sure there are others as well.
That's why I added a new web page to the site this week: your story. A place where you can tell how your bunions developed, how they affect your life, what you're doing or have done to cure them.
To tell your story, you only have to click on the link ‘your bunion story’ above and you'll be taken to a page where you can enter your story. It'll be turned into a web page for everyone to read. By sharing what you know about bunions, treatments, products etc, we might be one step closer to curing our bunions.
The other day I read that bunions might be considered as being a symptom of repetitive strain injury in your feet. Not so strange a concept really. Because think of it. On unpaved roads, every step is different. So different muscles of your feet are activated all the time.
By the way, did you know that each foot has 12 different muscles, 10 of which are located on the sole? They're there to be used! By walking on paved surfaces most of the time, and by wearing footwear that don't allow our feet to move freely, it could very well be that some of these muscles don't get the exercise they need, while others are being overused.
So what can we do to give our feet the variety of movement they need? Going barefooted as much as possible sure seems to be a good idea, but I'm afraid I cannot anymore – that'll be too painful for the ball of my second toes. But I can wear sandals or flip flops instead – footwear that allows my feet to move as freely as possible.
Another thing that seems like a good thing to do, is changing your footwear frequently. I have to admit I don't do this a lot (I have my favorite shoes that I put on as soon as I leave the house). But I think I should. Because wearing different shoes will activate different muscles in your feet.
And lastly, I could try to bring more variation in my way of walking (as I have absolutely no way of changing the surface I'm walking on). For example, I could walk on my toes for a few steps or on my heels. Turn my feet in, or out when I walk. Everything that gives all the muscles of my feet the exercise they need (and not just the same ones over and over again).
For the last decade or so, I didn't really love my feet. Why should I? They didn't look nice, they caused me a lot of trouble when I had to buy new shoes, and they did hurt sometimes. So I tried to ignore them as much as possible. I didn't treat them badly, but I didn't pamper them either.
Now that I've decided to do something about my bunions, I realise I have to take good care of my feet – regardless the state they're in.
This concept dawned on my when I started taking daily foot baths. It felt good and my feet responded by looking better almost immediately. As if they were glad that I finally took care of them.
Gradually, I began looking for other ways in which I could pamper my feet. I realized how important it was that they were kept warm (I suffer from cold feet a lot). So I bought myself a pair of cashmere socks. And when I feel my feet are tired, I try to stop for a few seconds and give them a quick massage. Also, I bought a diamond callus rasp to keep my heels and balls of my feet smooth. Everything to show them I really do care...
How do you keep motivated? Motivated to continue exercising your feet, to take a daily footbath, to keep to a healthy diet?
The other day, I learned a great way to stay motivated. It was my acupuncturist who mentioned it to me. I call it the ‘Rule of Six’.
What is this ‘Rule of Six’ about? Well, nothing more than that you allow yourself a break every now and then. A daily footbath is still a daily footbath when taken six days a week instead of seven. Your diet is still healthy when you cannot resist a big chocolate chip cookie at times. And you really still have a chance to reduce the size of your bunions if you have to skip your bunion exercises every Tuesday.
Do you see what I mean? Don't be too harsh on yourself; give yourself a break from time to time and it'll be much more easier for you to follow the guidelines you've set for yourself.
We've just spent a couple of fantastic walking days in Cornwall. The weather hasn't been very good this summer in this part of the world, but I think we've been very lucky: lots of sun and not a single drop of rain for the past ten days!
Almost ten years ago, we walked part of the South West Coast Path, one of the longest long distance foot paths in England. As we enjoyed it very much at the time, we decided to come back this year and explore another stretch of the beautiful Cornish coastline.
To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive before we started, because the past ten years the bunions on my feet gradually grew worse and walking long distances became increasingly more difficult. I've been trying to cope by decreasing the weight of my backpack (mostly by staying in B&B's instead of camping). Also, I bought a set of walking poles, which take some weight off your feet, especially when you're going downhill.
But now that I've started this bunion experiment, I've discovered more items that could help me covering 11 to 12 miles (18 to 20 km) by foot each day: my posture control insoles, Epsom salts, yoga toes and zeng ghu shui lotion (see the page about bunion care products for more information). Luckily these items don't weigh very much; they merely take up some extra space. The only thing I decided to leave at home was the tiger warmer – I was afraid its smoke would trigger the fire alarms in the B&B's where we were staying!
Looking back, I'm glad I brought all these items. Although my bunions surely did look red after a long day of walking, this redness quickly subsided after a foot bath with Epsom salts (I used a foldable beach bag with a plastic liner) and putting the yoga toes on afterwards also felt really good.
And last but not least: I don't know if it's because of the posture control insoles I'd put in my walking shoes, but I never had to stop walking because of pain under my right foot, something which has happened a couple of times before. So I hope I'm on the right track!
I'm sure you'd like to know how this bunion experiment is working out for me. Well, that's exactly what this bunion blog is for. Also, I'd like to have your opinion – what do you think of the bunion treatments and the bunion care products I selected for this experiment? Do they do anything for you? And of course, if you know of any additional bunion treatments, I'm sure we all want to hear about them!
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