Toe splay refers to the ability of the toes to spread out and separate from each other. It may seem like a simple movement, but many people can't get their toes to splay actively. This is usually because we spend so much time in socks and shoes that don't leave room for the toes to splay. When we lose toe splay, we are diminishing many important functions of the foot. Here are a few reasons why toe splay is so important:
Balance and stability
Toe splay creates a wider base of support for balance and stability during standing, walking, and running. Look down at your foot and visualize a triangle from your heel to the pinky and great toe. This essentially creates a tripod, and toe splay can increase the size of the tripod, resulting in better balance.
Proper distribution of forces
Proper toe splay allows for forces to be evenly distributed throughout the foot. This allows for better shock absorption and prevents excessive pressure on areas of the foot that can't handle that pressure. This can help reduce injury but also increase efficiency during walking and running.
Improved natural arches
When the toes are properly aligned and spread out, it helps to maintain the height and strength of the natural arches of the foot.
Foot Strength and flexibility
Working to maintain toe splay through mobility and strength exercises helps to increase the strength of our feet, making them more resilient to injuries. Strong feet can also load and unload forces much more efficiently, resulting in faster running.
Proprioception refers to our body's ability to tell where it is in space. Toe splay allows for more sensory feedback because our body can better perceive the position of the foot when the toes are spread out.
Check out this video for some ideas on how to get more mobility for toe splay. Once you have the mobility, you can progress to more active exercises to benefit from the strength of your toe splay.
I hope this article got you thinking about getting your feet healthy! Schedule a discovery visit with me if you want some help getting started.
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