Do your feet feel tired? Overworked? Are they tight? Do they cramp easily just by a simply stretch?
Our feet are our most basic support. They are what carry the weight of our bodies and propel us through life. Without well functioning feet, we cannot begin to expect other parts of our bodies to change. Today’s blog is all about the FEET!! All you people who are squirmish by feet, perhaps this blog is not for you
To achieve a well-functioning foot, we first must have the space and loosening up of the connective tissue in and around the foot, so that are bones may move most effectively. When are bones, joints, muscles are able to move effectively as we move, we have optimal support.
So, what does SUPPORT THROUGH THE FEET even mean?
For starters, we have 3 main arches in the feet: medial, lateral, and transverse. An optimally functional foot uses all three in what is referred to as the ‘propeller foot.’ In walking, when we push off the ground, our foot propels us forward, thus, the ‘propeller foot.’ An optimal functioning foot would push-off the ground in this way: heel strike, contact with outside edge of foot through lateral arch, roll-through to the inside of the foot through the transverse arch, then to the medial arch, and push-off from the big toe hinge. Simply stated: heel strike → lateral → transverse → medial → big toe hinge. All areas of the foot are making contact with the ground in appropriate and equal amounts. With the final push-off, ideally, a definite hinge is seen at the big toe. The big toe will be final part of the foot to make contact with the ground. Those of us with bunions, getting bunions, don’t use our toe hinge. Our toes tend to be slightly flexed upwards through the entire action of walking. Not sure what I mean? Try it out. Go for a little stroll. Avoid the temptation to look directly down at your toes to see what is happening as this will impact your gait. Rather, look into the horizon and notice what you feel. Does your big toe make full contact with the floor to its tip? Or does the push-off phase happen from the ball of your foot? A fun, quick, inquisitive check-in.
Our feet are made of 26 bones. Well functioning feet require space and flexibility between their bones. An often over-looked restrictor of bones in our feet and ankles is our flexor retinaculum. Our flexor retinaculum is a thin sheet of fascia (connective tissue) that wraps horizontally around the top of our foot & ankle. As our feet are in a state of almost constant flexion, examples being: walking around, jogging, biking, sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor, driving, etc. this fascial sheath has the tendency to be very wound and tight. Simply remembering to point your foot and do a gentle self-massage along the top of the foot can do wonders.
The bottom of our foot consists of a thick layer of fascia that many of you are probably familiar with, the plantar fascia. This is a common area of inflammation and discomfort. A tight or inflamed plantar fascia will restrict movement between the bones of the foot, thus resulting in lessened functioning of the arches of the foot, leading to knee problems, imbalanced pelvis, etc. This area is high in proprioceptors, small sensors that provide information to our nervous system and brain. Thus, it is important to ‘wake-it-up’ and stretch it out. Try the exercise below and I can guarantee you will notice an IMMEDIATE difference in how your foot contacts the floor. You may even notice how that brings about a change in your leg and pelvis as well. It is all connected my friends. So try it out, and please, let me know what you think.
Increasing Awareness & Sensation in our FEET
Equipment needed: Tennis Ball
Walk around the room a bit. Begin to gain an awareness of your feet connecting with the floor. Does one foot contact the floor differently from the other?
Begin with one foot. Place the tennis ball under your foot. With a light pressure begin to move it around underneath your foot. The idea here is not to use the tennis ball to massage your foot, but simply to have light pressure to begin to ‘wake-up’ the foot. What this does is increase information to the proprioceptors, the small sensors that send information to muscles and ultimately, the brain.
Make contact with the ENTIRE surface area of your foot. Feel all of your heel, the outside of your foot, the inside of your foot. Go through each metatarsal bone (if you have no idea what a metatarsal bone is just start at about the middle of your foot) to the tip of each toe. Creating a line. Gaining sensation and awareness of your toe all the way to the tip. Do this for EACH toe.
Before switching feet, simply stand. See if you notice any differences. Now, go for a little walk. Can you tell a difference between feet? How are your feet connecting with the ground? Can you perceive a difference up through your legs?
Repeat the Tennis Ball cues with the other foot.
Go for another stroll and again, take note of what you feel.
SHARE with me your take-away notes. What did you notice? Was there a difference? Did you feel a softening of your foot after the tennis ball exercise? Was your foot able to have better contact with the ground? Comment below & share your experience.
Your BODY WANTS to go towards HEALTH. With a little bit of input, it’ll do that. Just by waking up the brain through increased proprioception, amazes me how much change we can feel. Try this exercise everyday for a week. You’re feet will be AWAKE, ENERGIZED and thank you.