The Foot-Brain Connection

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The Foot-Brain Connection

With so many vibrant designs and colors, Tucketts high performance grip socks are not only in style, they are functional and tailored with science in mind!  This month begins our Foot-Brain connection series. Find out why Tucketts are the best socks for the soles of your feet!  

 

Part I - The foot-brain connection

The importance of healthy feet is often undervalued.  In fact, the health of one’s feet is often either neglected or abused.  Constrictive or ill-shaped shoe wear, like high heels, can often lead to foot dysfunction. Agile feet can help to improve one’s balance, posture, gait, and movement overall. 


However, feet do not function independently of the body or brain.  In fact, extensive research points to a definitive foot-brain connection, which is so dynamic that when activated, it allows us to move with calm, certainty, and security.  

This foot-brain connection empowers us to move in space.  Feeling our stability we gain confidence for more unbounded action and movement patterns, without it our mobility becomes restricted and diminished.  Therefore, maintaining foot health, and avoiding injuries from overuse are vital to fluid movement and optimal performance.  

Exercises for feet to improve flexibility, mobility, and strength are important, while the most significant practice in achieving better foot health and ensuring the foot-brain connection is going barefoot. 

Did you know that your feet can recognize objects through touch using somatosensory perception and proprioception?  This is called Haptic perception. Scientific evidence demonstrates a link between haptic perception and body movement. 

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Fascia, tendons, and ligaments are ionically charged and receive sensory information providing feedback to the brain which enables us to move with skill. There are:

  • Over 7000 nerve endings in the sole of the foot

  • 26 bones in each foot that work with intrinsic muscles to provide a static or dynamic balance

  • 250,000 sweat glands that can produce 4-6oz. of perspiration a day in active feet

  • 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons 

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All of these components, contribute information for sensorimotor control.  Everything must work synergistically to provide postural stability, balance, grip strength, shock absorption, and mobility for quiet standing, gait, and dynamic movement.

Being barefoot benefits the feet anatomically, functionally, and structurally.  The more we stimulate our feet, the more neuroplasticity can be developed in the brain for the areas of the body we use most and how.  For example, according to Yoga Journal, practicing yoga while consciously engaging and stretching your feet, can help to develop balanced alignment from your feet up through the body, prevent problems like plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints in the lower legs. 

In the Pilates Method, footwork is the foundation of all reformer exercises. From the feet we begin mobilization of the ankles, knees, and hips, improve skeletal alignment, and strengthen the muscles to support alignment.  Stable, balanced feet initiate stabilization of the spine and work deep core muscles.

If you practice Barre exercises then you’re in luck since Barre workouts are ballet-inspired and that means a lot of foot and ankle strengthening exercises.  Barre work tends to incorporate high repetitions with smaller ranges of movement and can really strengthen the feet and ankles in a short amount of time.  

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Key components to balance control are derived from somatosensory, vestibular, and visual systems information.  Shoes distort the information the brain receives from the feet. When we are barefoot the information received is more authentic, and this raw data received mostly from our open toes is sent to the brain.  The signals relay information about surface texture, ground support, and environmental factors which help us to optimally support posture while standing or moving.

Tucketts knows that the highest threshold of sensory information received by the brain comes from the heel and toes. Covered toes transmit less information and thus may impede postural stability.  It is important to have open toes to receive accurate sensory information. Tucketts understands this, and the science behind our sock is why we are so adamant about Freedom for Toes!

Why open toes? Why the lightweight knit? Tucketts sticky socks are designed to preserve that crucial foot-brain connection mentioned above. Shoes and thick or toe covered socks break that connection. Why not just go barefoot? Tucketts offer stability! Moisture-wicking fabric, preventing sweat from creating a slippery situation. Superior tacky grips keep you in place. Slight compression in some styles supports your arches and ankles. Every detail has your connection, stability, and support in mind.

This month, show a little love to your hard-working feet, try this wonderful foot bath recipe! And remember,  when you look down at your feet, we hope that your vibrant Tucketts put a smile on your face!

How do you show love to your feet? Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to tag us in your posts @lovetucketts

* All scientific references available upon request

Sources:

Ku, P.X., Osman, N. A. A., Yusof, A., & Abas, W. A. B. W. (2012). The effect on human balance of standing with toe-extension. PLOS 7(7): e41539.  Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0041539

Oltman, S. (2019). How going barefoot affects your brain. Correct Toes [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.correcttoes.com/foot-help/how-going-barefoot-affects-your-brain/#primary

Vivobarefoot. (2019) Discover your brain-foot connection.  Yoga Journal Retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/brain-foot-connection

Yoga Journal, Retrieved February 27, 2020 from https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/foot-notes


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