Day 227: Bunions and Self Education

So I rather recently discovered that I have ‘bunions’ on my feet. The interesting thing is that my feet have been this way for a very long time, since about as far back as I can remember, though I know I wasn’t born that way. Since I have practically always been this way, I never knew it was some kind of condition, or actually technically a 'deformity', I just thought it was normal for my feet and that they were just shaped a bit differently. It wasn't until I was recently diagnosed as having ‘bunions’ that I began a little process of self education on the point, which has led to some fascinating discoveries.

The existence of these bunions were going to potentially affect my ability to get hired for a certain job, so surgery was advised to me as a possibility. Normally I wouldn’t have considered something as serious as surgery for the sake of getting a job, accept that it sounded like ‘bunions’ is a progressive thing that will likely just get worse over time, so I started to take it seriously, as even though they don’t cause me any pain or seem to bother or hinder me in any way now, I can see how this could lead to serious complications later in life as it worsens, at a time where I might not be so robust to go through a surgical procedure.

I was told and read in many sources that surgery is really the only way to fix a bunion, even though it is not necessarily always permanent. That the bones have become out of alignment and nothing short of surgery could actually correct them. I also was told and read that bunions is a largely hereditary thing, and that certain footwear can support the forming of and/or worsening of bunions.

However I kept researching the point, because I like to really understand something, how it works, what are the factors involved to empower myself to make the best informed decision I can, especially when it comes to the physical body, something that is so important, and yet we usually take for granted. My research led me to realizations of a profound scope that I wasn’t expecting, but yet isn’t really that surprising.

What I came across is the point that our feet are naturally meant to be like a triangle in shape, like when we are born, where the very widest point of the feet is at the end of the toes. This is how human feet naturally form in cultures who never wear footwear. The toes are splayed and make a nice foundation to support us upon the earth, with strong flexible toes. And yet, when we look at the kind of footwear that is available to wear, very nearly none of it is shaped like that. They are all tapered at the toe and widest part is at the ball of the foot. This means that when we wear conventional shoes that we are squishing our toes together in an unnatural position.

Now, to some degree I knew this or knew something wasn't quite right, I mean you can feel how your foot fits in a shoe, and yet I never really questioned it, because no one else seems to be concerned about it, and really like all shoes are shaped in such a way, and it just doesn’t strike you that all of our footwear would actually be detrimental to our health and well-being. I mean, before I researched and educated myself to understand how the foot works, its bones, tendons, blood-flow, all the parts that make it up and how they function, I really didn’t have a concrete clue as to what I was actually doing by wearing our normal, everyday, standard, widely-accepted and worn by most, shoes.

I would highly recommend doing some research for oneself on this point to get an understanding as well. The statistic is that more than 75% of adults will suffer some form of foot deformity and that most of this is caused by ill-fitting footwear. It's only a small percentage that are actually born with deformities.

It was kind of funny because now that I am aware of the harm and damage and deformity that typical shoes can cause, I went to the store to look for shoes that would be properly shaped to fit your foot as it should be, and was taken aback by how almost every single shoe was one that had a tapered toe. But then I brought myself back to reality because it’s not like they just suddenly became like this, they were this way yesterday and the day before that and I wasn’t reacting then. It is just now that I know better, and my perspective has changed.

But so I had to look at now, how did we get here, to this point where 99% or more of our available footwear is actually inappropriate to wear. Even many sports and fitness shoes that are supposed to be really good for you are actually the opposite. It just seems so bizarre, like waking up from a strange dream, like how is it possible that for essentially my whole life, I have been wearing shoes that are deforming my feet, and leading to such physical consequence? How is this possible?

Well one of the essential factors of course is not being educated on what is really going on and how the the physical body works. I mean, throughout my life I have witnessed, interacted with, passed by countless people, probably thousands, and I can’t recall ever seeing one who hadn’t worn typical footwear, tapered in the toe, to have any kind of direct experience or context for how different feet could be. In school we learn a bit about anatomy, but kind of in a bubble, like we learn about the body generally, but not so much in application and in relation to our actual lives and day to day stuff, like for example something as basic as the shoes we wear, and what is appropriate footwear and what are the consequences of improperly designed footwear.

If it was such an intrinsically 'hereditary' thing, meaning that we are genetically prone to it, wouldn't that all the more reason to ensure that our footwear doesn’t exacerbate conditions that we know are prone to form? I also find it strange that when we look at the facts of the improper shaping of our footwear and how it deforms the feet over time, it seems rather pointless to say it is hereditary. It kind of sounds like saying that the body has a hereditary condition to die when it can’t get food, like citing that as the main cause of death when a person would starve, no obviously it was the lack of food that was the main factor that brought on the death. I mean, if you grew a tree in a box, what shape is it going to grow into?

We need to educate ourselves and then take responsibility for how we know the human body functions and how best to care for it, as a living growing thing which allows us to be here and living, especially when it comes to children when our bodies are in the most formative stage and children as yet don't have an understanding of how the body works. What would be cool to see is to have that be a part of our education system where children could learn such life skills and how to support their body, and prevent the very consequences that we come to suffer as adults.

For self education on this point, here's a video that I found to be very supportive in explaining how the foot functions and just what is going on when the foot is put out of alignment by improperly fitting footwear, starting at around 3:40:

Here is a video from a podiatrist that came to this realization that gives a nice overview of the point (I am not an official endorser of this person or their product, I don't get paid to promote it or anything. I am sharing this just for information/education purposes):