Breaking Addictions to Bad Habits

Humans are creatures of habit, but have you ever considered why?

Well, think about this for a second:

In your feet and ankles alone, you have 33 different joints and over 100 muscles and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons). When you walk, you undergo a specific biomechanical process with each step called pronation – which is an inward rolling motion of roughly fifteen percent (assuming under- or overpronation is not in the picture). Pronation happens during the ground portion of a step, but there’s still the lifting of your leg, moving it forward, and then planting the foot back on the ground phases of a step.

So, all those joints and tissues have to be coordinated to go through a mechanically complex process – every single time you step!

By all accounts, you take roughly 6,000 steps in an average day if you’re an average person. Are you an active person—you should be! —who walks or runs for exercise? Then that number will certainly jump to 10,000 – 18,000.

Keep in mind we aren’t even talking about anything else entailed with taking a step, like everything that goes into swinging your arms when you walk or run. This is simply what your feet and legs are doing 10,000 times a day.

If you had to think about all this every time you walked, you wouldn’t have time to think about anything else! (Like where you are even walking in the first place…)

So, we all use habits on a constant basis for the sake of efficiency.

And this can be either good or bad.

Before we move into decisions that are more conscious, let’s expand upon the pronation example.

Why do our feet roll with the ground portion of each step? Well, this motion both contributes to advancing the step and absorbing the tremendous amount of forces even the lightest of us place on our feet. (Without going into the physics behind this, you place up to four times your bodyweight in force on the landing foot when you walk, and as much as eight times when you run!)

Pronation can clearly be a good habit, even if it’s one we don’t even think about.

At the same time, though, pronating too much (overpronation) or too little (supination) can cause issues and need to be addressed. (Shameless plug – we provide effective services to help resolve problems from pronation patterns that fall outside of “normal” parameters!) In these cases, the habits aren’t quite so good.

Until now, you likely haven’t given much thought to your pronation. (Unless, perhaps, if you are having problems as a result – in which case, come see us for help.)

Some habits, however, are more apparent.

Further, these habits are ones you can more easily make conscious decisions to do something about.

One of the oft-overlooked truths is that we all have choices in life. Sure, we may not always be able to choose or control the things that happen to us, but we always have choices with our words and actions.

Going to that pronation “well” for one last time, you likely overpronate or supinate on account of an inherited foot structure. You didn’t do anything to end up with flat feet or high foot arches—the usual suspects for pronation abnormalities—except be born with them. So not a lot of choice there, right?

But you can take action to resolve and prevent problems from overpronation or supination! As we may have hinted at shamelessly plugged, you can contact our office and request an appointment.

When you do, you will probably have to adopt a new habit – using your prescribed orthotic devices when you wear shoes! (Orthotics are outstanding medical options, but they won’t magically help if they’re just sitting underneath the bed with the dust bunnies.)

In addition to wearing orthotics, other good habits for your foot health include taking five minutes to stretch your lower limbs every day, applying topical medication daily, and adhering to post-op instructions and physical therapy if you’ve had a foot or ankle surgery.

Of course, not all habits in life are foot-related.

A really great habit to get into is waking up without hitting the snooze button. Why? Because if you’re getting enough sleep—something that is essential for optimal health—you won’t need to.

How can you make that happen? It starts with making the decision to do so. From there, you need to plan ahead. Commit yourself to an earlier bedtime and practice good sleep routine (turning off screens is one example, but you can find more by googling “sleep hygiene”).

Then, when you start waking up earlier, create a new habit out of taking some time to think about your day and what you plan to achieve. You’ll be amazed at how much more you start to get done.

Another awesome habit is reading. If you aren’t already a regular reader, wouldn’t it be cool to finish 10-12 books a year? But who has time for that, right? Well, with a little planning – you do! It only takes about 10 pages a day to finish a book each month (depending, naturally, on the page count of the books you choose).

No matter if they have to do with your feet or not, all habits do have a couple of things in common:

  • Habits can make your life successful.
  • Deciding you are going to do something takes the same amount of energy and commitment—no matter if you are making a good or bad decision—so it just makes sense to choose the correct path.
  • Good decisions made repeatedly become good habits.
  • You have the power to break your bad habits.

If you think this sounds challenging, consider the age-old proverb:

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. (Hopefully, that step is in the right direction!)

It’s important to start with small decisions. This will get you in the groove and accustomed to personal victories.

In the “wake up earlier” example, it’s only a small decision to say “I’m going to bed at 10:00 instead of 11:00 tonight,” but it gets the ball rolling. Heck, you could even take smaller steps if you need to and start with going to bed at 10:45, then 10:30, etc.

Woman walking on a road

Remember, it’s always best to break things down to smaller steps.

Making the decision to lose 40 pounds may seem like a good idea, but it has an end game – the point where you can quit. Old, bad habits will come back and …guess what happens. They creep back into your daily routine. Start by deciding to eat healthy and be active. This is a journey that can last forever and get you closer to the weight loss goal. Another life hack for success is to write your goals down, and then tell someone so they can hold you accountable. Keeping your goals a secret is the easiest way to forget them.

The same approach and mindset will help you break your bad habits. (Although, it’s worth noting that adopting good habits like “wake up earlier” and “read more” is a matter of breaking bad habits like “not getting enough sleep” and “not reading.”)

When you decide it’s time to break your bad habits, you’re obviously going to need to replace them with good ones – but you have to establish your cause or your “why” first. Otherwise, you might be tackling a symptom and not the actual problem. That could possibly help for at least a little while, but the symptom is just going to emerge again, potentially even worse than before. (Trust us, it’s just like a medical condition or injury in this regard).

As you tackle your bad habits, stay resolute – but give yourself room for a misstep here or there (you’re only human, after all).

When you do misstep—and the odds are quite good you will—remember that your good habits don’t have to be lost forever. Simply pick yourself back up and get ready to go at it again. Learning from our mistakes and missteps is often how humans find success. In fact, if you want to double your success rate, quadruple your failure rate!

One of the most egregious bad habits when it comes to foot health is living with foot pain. If you are ready to put this bad habit to rest, contact us today by calling (317) 545-0505 and let’s get started on helping you develop some good ones instead!
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