The Human Foot

I treated myself to a 1-hour massage, with hot stones on Thursday.  It was indulgence at it’s best, and the really exciting part is that I parted with zero hard-earned cash for this treat.  It came courtesy of my lovely mother.  An indulgence indeed – to celebrate my new job!  And, that in the “heat” of the moment, I couldn’t help but think R should share in the bliss (I apologize, but my fingers got the better of me with that pun).  So, next week, he’ll be doing the same – courtesy of me!

The reason I am starting a post on the human foot with this non sequitur about my massage, is that I recalled something on that table.  At the outset of the massage, they gave me an image of the human form and told me to circle the areas where I wanted to focus.  Being in near-constant IT band distress, I circled my lower back, hips, abdomen, and butt.  Then, to clarify,  I wrote “IT band” in big letters.  Reading my note,  Jacinta, the masseuse looked up quizzically and asked “What does this mean?” Not a good sign.  As I fumbled through a description of my issues, I tried to ramp down expectations.

But, one would be hard-pressed to turn down a free massage.  In fact, I will NEVER EVER do that.  Massage is the way to my heart, and probably a few other things.  So, I laid on the table and let Jacinta have her way with me.  As she made her way through my various trouble spots, I withdrew some initial judgment.  The girl, while perhaps not perfectly trained, was good.

When she got to my feet I nearly melted into the table.

Since coming to Australia, my feet have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts.  Between the daily running of errands sans car in Brisbane, miles (kilometres?) pounded out marathon training, yoga 3-5 times a week, a new-found swimming habit, and my uncompromising zumba routine (the part of my workout plan LEAST likely to be skipped), I am on my feet a lot.  Not just on my feet, but on my bare or sandal-clad feet. Walking, the way feet were designed to walk.  Spreading my toes. Strengthening my arches.  And, it shows.  My feet look muscular in a new and exciting way.  My outside arch is developing into something visible.  My feet, which have long been something just to get me around, are now something I love!

Of course, this comes with some side-effects.  For example, each night when I wake around 1-3 a.m. and stagger out of the bedroom for a glass of water or a trip to the bathroom I find myself hobbling with Achilles tendons rigid, feet inflexible, and calves straining.  The poor puppies are tired.  I hadn’t realized the full extent of their strain, until Jacinta took them firmly in her hands and gave them some massage love. This was the catalyst for my deep thoughts on the human foot.

Feet are a funny part of the body that I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with.  Upon entry to this world, my legs were a tangled mess.  I  don’t know all the details of this, but I know it was solved by putting a newborn in plaster casts to straighten her misshapen gams.  From then on I was wearing orthodics to save me from a destiny of rolled ankles and pigeon-toes.  This, while not overly damaging, has made me a bit self-conscious of my legs.  I never stood equally-weighted on both feet, fearing my knock-knees would be obvious.  Rather, I developed a confident hip-jutting that kept my secrets. I embraced a scandalous habit of swaying my hips as I walked in order to disguise my pigeon toes.  I stared longingly at girls with a little bit of bow-leggedness.  Ah, to have knees that didn’t touch.

All my life, I thought this bit of vanity was a rather meaningless reflection on an insecure child.  Later in life, suffering IT band cramps that can be debilitating, I wonder if there was more to it.  Might things might have been different if I had lived my life a bit more shoeless and fancy-free?

As I write this, I am looking at the bare bottoms of R’s feet.  He has “pads” as he calls them.  Like a dog. They seem pretty useful.  He runs almost daily without shoes.  His feet are lean, toes spread, legs strong.  He has NEVER suffered an overuse injury from running.  Not one time in his many ultra-marathons, Ironmans, and various other races.  From him I draw some inspiration.  Perhaps if I follow in his footsteps (literally), someday I will be barefoot and injury-free.


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