Friday, March 11, 2016

Putting Your Foot Down

The goal of this blog is to put some spring into your step at the Shabbat table.
Dedicated to the continued and speedy recovery of my Mom, completing post-rehab week 2 and doing better every day.

Foot collageQuick – which part of your body contains the most bones, joints and muscles?

Would you have guessed your feet?

A full one-quarter of your bones are in your feet! Why so many?

We humans are top-heavy. And gravity is pulling us downward all the time. And the world is a bumpy place. So your feet are designed to give you maximum safety and comfort as you walk around. Each foot is a complex mechanical structure with 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments and 7,800 nerves.

That complex design allows your foot to react to uneven surfaces, like grass, sand or rocks. Your foot actually changes shape and orientation. And it does that automatically - you don’t even have to think about it!

Central to that design is the arch. Everyone knows about the arch of the foot. But most people don't know that each foot actually has five or more interconnected arches (not merely three or four as some websites claim). They work together like a sophisticated spring and protect your whole body from the shocks of walking.

Speaking of walking, how many steps would you guess you take every day?

If you’re really, really busy, maybe only 1,000. If you’re average, about 3,000; more active than average, about 5,000; and the super-walkers out there get up to 10,000. (By the way, if you're wondering if really matters, click here or here.)

But even at 3,000 steps
, your feet must get pretty hot! Fortunately, you have about 250,000 sweat glands in your feet producing a cup of perspiration daily.

And that brings me to the toes.... Why do we have them? Could you learn to walk without toes? Do we really need these funny knobs sticking out of our feet?

People without toes can walk, but toes make it a lot easier to balance, especially when you’re running and jumping. Your foot is the perfect design for your body!

So you’re walking around on these complex balancing machines called feet. Think of everything you do in a day on your feet – walking, running, playing and so on. 3,000 steps! Think of how much force and stress your feet withstand, every day. During an average day of walking, the total forces on your feet can total hundreds of tons, that’s like a fully loaded cement truck. And every time you take a step, all of your body weight is shifted onto one foot. Your feet take a beating every day.

All this leads to today's question for your table:

Can you imagine doing all that walking and running around without shoes? What it would be like? What would it do to your feet? If there were no shoe factories, no shoe stores, no cobblers, what would you do? Could you make your own?

(The above is a unit in our Amazing Nature for Teachers curriculum. For more info or to subscribe, click here.)

Shabbat Shalom 

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Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld
Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc.
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