We use and abuse our feet so much. We shuffle them to work, we cram them in high heels and other contraptions, we jump-hop-skip throughout our day trusting they will catch us when we fall.
But the actual condition of our feet is rarely looked at. If we really take a look, they can reveal a lot about how the rest of our body is doing.
Now I know, I know. Some people can’t stand feed (which is funny because we STAND on our feet. Heh. Get it? Play on words…) and some people like feet WAY too much (no judgment). I’m pretty indifferent. Feet are feet. I massage feet on a daily basis. And I literally walk on people for living with Thai Massage. But through my years of foot care, I’ve learned how extremely important paying attention to them is. So get over it foot haters!
Without nerding out too much on foot anatomy, the foot has 66 joints, 52 bones, and 40 muscles. It also has countless nerves and blood vessels that connect to all other parts of the body.
Improper care of our feet can lead to all sorts of issues like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, gout, fractures, and inflammation to name a few.
So what to do about it.
If you are having some serious foot issues, I suggest contacting a massage therapist or foot specialist, but here are some simple things, baby steps if you will, to keeping your feet as happy as can be.
A daily rub down
You can schmooze a loved one to rub your feet at the end of the day (do a trade and make it bonding time!) or you can roll your feet on a golf ball, tennis ball, soup can, whatever. I make my yoga students rub their feet while we are sitting in bound angle (butterfly stretch).
Not only does this feel ah-mahz-ing, but breaking up the connective tissue in the feet can loosen up the entire back of the body, like the calves, hamstrings, even the back.
Don’t believe me? Try doing a forward fold while standing and see how far you can go. Now, work the bottoms of the feet with a tennis ball or something for a few minutes. Forward fold again and see how much further you can go. It’s pretty cool.
Stretch and Strengthen
Years ago when I started practicing yoga regularly, my massage therapist pointed out that the quality of my feet started to significantly change. My arches became healthier, and I felt much better overall.
A basic yoga practice will tone your feet without you really thinking about it, but if that’s not your jam, try these exercises found on the FiveFingers shoe website.
Equalize your weight
A lot of yoga teachers, myself included, talk about equalizing your weight on your feet when doing standing poses.
This simple act of balancing the weight on the base of the big toe, base of the pinky toe, and the heel whenever standing can have a profound effect on the rest of the body.
You can picture balancing the three, yes three arches of the foot.
I swear that this act alone healed a lot of some hip and lower leg I was having. It was one of the only conscious changes I made during that time, and it really helped.
Wear shoes that make you happy
I’m not a shoe or insert specialist, and I’m not going to pretend to be one. Some people say arch support to the max, some people say wear no shoes at all.
I say find good quality shoes that overall feel good to be in. None of this crappy flip flop stuff. No cheap and stiff flats. No crazy over the top heels, on a daily basis that is. Spend the money to have a few really nice pairs of shoes that will fashionably and functionally last you a few seasons. Re-sole or get new shoes when the sole starts to wear.
But do take some time to let those puppies be free from shoes and socks. Air them out. Walk in the grass. It’s good for your soul and soles!
Don’t forget the calves!
Did you know that a lot of foot pain is actually referral pain from tight calves? Calf issues are mistaken for plantar fasciitis regularly. So if you feel some severe foot pain. Massage and stretch the calves and shin muscles and see if that helps.
Now there is so much more to say, but hopefully this is enough to get your feet wet 🙂 Oh man, I can’t resist the puns.
Bring some mindfulness to your darling feet this week. See how they are doing, and next week we will go into the wonderful world of hygiene, scrubs, and daily foot care rituals!