Our feet carry us everywhere, yet we constantly neglect them and their need for space, movement, and balance. You go to “workout” and shove them in tight padded shoes. At yoga, your instructor tells you to “ground your feet” or “spread your toes” before Tree pose, and those poor feet are simply atrophied body parts clumping around with you.
If you are one of many who suffer from bunions, hammer toe, plantar fasciitis, pronation, and supination issues, there is way more you could be doing to help yourself. Foot problems are just the tip of the iceberg. What about your hips, back, and shoulder issues? Did you know that your little tootsies could be to blame?
Here are five of my favorite foot moves to get you walking in the right direction.
1. Rolling out your feet.
I love my acuball. If you don’t own one, grab a small ball to get that foot a moving! A tennis ball or lacrosse ball work great! Breaking up tight and sticky fascia is step one to release your feet. Be ready, this will surely open up a can of worms on the rest of your body. Think: everything is connected! Your feet have been in casts (shoes) most of your life. To truly wake them up is going to require you to take the shoes off and slowly step away.
2. Negative Heel Stretch
The soul of the lower leg is the soleus muscle. This muscle is lying flat to the lower leg under the gastrocnemius (aka the calf). When this overlooked muscle is tight, he can cause your dreaded plantar fasciitis to flair. Hold this stretch for a minute at a time to help bring relief to that irritated plantar tendon and lower leg muscle. Don’t do this just once – do it a few times and really stretch it out! With shoes on all day and most with some sort of heel, this negative heel stretch is helping you undo all that pressure to the ball of the foot and shortening of the lower leg muscles.
3. Functional Calf Release
This is one of the staple moves I teach in my classes – anyone with legs needs to be doing this release. Take a modestly wide stride with one foot planted forward. The simple movement of bending and extending the back leg (keeping the heel down) will help release the feet with an added bonus of hamstring, hip, and back relief.
4. Ankle Roll
I never realized how tight and sore my ankles were until I started to stretch them. Using a strap or necktie wrapped under the foot, rotate the outer edge of the foot towards the sky and lengthen through the outer leg. Our shoes leave us high and dry with immobile feet, stiff ankles, and an aching upper body. This stretch will help you earn back some of that mobility
5. Toe Spread
Between our toes are muscles. Our feet become stiff just like any other area of the body when not used to the fullest. With lack of use and high pressure from heeled shoes, our little toes become stiff and quite frankly unusable. Take a seat and let your fingers and toes snuggle up together and get moving. Beware that if your feet rarely receive TLC like this, start small. Instead of your fingers, try pencils, then graduate to markers, and then to your fingers. A little goes a long way.
Now those aching feet of yours no longer have an excuse to not feel amazing. As for the rest of the body, it all starts from the ground up.
Namaste to all my foot-friendly peeps!
CHECK THE VIDEO FOR DETAILS ON EACH OF MY FIVE FOOT MOVES!