- Our feet are our base and work hard every day to get us where we are going but we tend to pay very little attention to them. It’s time we gave them a little love!
- Our feet are made up of 28 bones and 35 joints from the ankle to the toes. Flexibility in our feet allows them to absorb shock as we move our body. When this flexibility is lost, we start to get wear and tear on other joints such as knees, hips and spine. Wearing shoes reduces movement that would normally occur in our day to day movement, reducing the flexibility of our feet. Walking on flat surfaces also reduces the need for our feet to adapt to changes, further reducing flexibility. Does this mean we should all stop wearing shoes? Of course not, although if you’d like to and it suits your lifestyle go ahead (you probably already have)! Reducing your time wearing shoes would be a far better option- especially for kids who have not lost their flexibility yet. For adults, the majority of us likely to have joints that are “stuck” or sometimes fused, but there are plenty of things we can do about it .
1- We are lucky enough in the Illawarra to have beautiful beaches and rockpools. Walking barefoot along the sand and rocks gives your feet a chance to learn to adapt to different surfaces. Don’t go doing hours of rock walking straight up, give your feet a chance to adapt, even a few minutes might be enough, gradually working your way up to longer walks. If you have pain the following day, you have most likely overdone it.
2- Tennis ball trick- Using a tennis ball or other firm ball, you can massage your foot to increase circulation and release tension. Just put the ball on the ground and stand (or sit to begin) and roll the ball under your foot. Experiment with going lengthways or side to side, making circles and adjusting the pressure. You body is the best judge of what it needs so stay mindful of what you feel and work on the areas that draw your attention.
3- Self massage- There is no right or wrong when it comes to self massage, let your instincts guide you. The most simple option is to use your thumbs to stroke from your heel to each toe. Find some time as often as you can to give your feet a massage. I like to massage my feet when I’m sitting on my mat waiting for a Yoga class (with another teacher). It’s a great way to set the tone of self care and I know I won’t be interrupted by my kids. Teaching your kids how to give massages and encouraging them to allow you to give them a massage is another nice way to fit in regular foot massages and as a bonus you get a nice bonding time with them too.
4- Bring attention to your feet and ankles in Yoga classes- Because our feet are our base, bringing attention to them during class, and activating muscles to stabilise your ankles and feet, will help with stability off the mat as your muscle memory improves. Lifting the arches of the feet during standing poses and balances, helps to stabilise the ankle. This can be done by spreading the toes and either lifting them or gripping the floor.
5- Legs up the wall- If you’ve been on your feet all day one of the kindest things you can do for your feet is do “legs up the wall” pose. Sit as close as you can sideways to the wall and as you lay down swing your legs around to bring them up onto the wall. Relaxing in this position allows gravity to move blood away from your feet and as you return to a seated position fresh blood can circulate down your legs and feet.
Give your feet the love they deserve and they will reward you with greater ease of movement and less wear and tear on your joints.