Happy Feet, Happy Body, Happy Mind
A foot consists of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is one massive clue that our feet are meant to move and be moved. They are designed to walk barefoot over uneven ground, not to be squeezed into pointy shoes and walked over concrete. I could get quite anatomically geeky at this point, but I will spare you for now. But, please remember that everything in the body is connected, and our feet play a big part in resolving issues in the body and creating space to allow free movement. I am saying this a little flippantly, but if someone has a headache, chances are that they have tight feet.
One of my favorite pieces of yoga “homework” for my students is a foot workout. It only takes 10 minutes, so you can do it in front of the telly, after having a bath, before going to bed, whilst chatting to your mum on the phone… there are endless opportunities. I won’t believe anyone who says they don’t have the time for this! Giving your feet 10 minutes of attention every day will make an enormous difference – try it!
So, just sit comfortably somewhere. If you want to do this on the floor, use a blanket or yoga mat for padding. And, of course: shoes off, socks off!
Mobilizing the Feet
- Spread the toes, then scrunch the toes – repeat 10 times
- Point the feet, then flex the feet – repeat 10 times
- Circle the feet outwards 5 rounds, then inwards 5 times
Remember to do all of this slowly in tune with your breathing.
Stretching the Feet
- Come to kneeling, point the feet away and sit back onto your heels. Try to stay for a minute
- Now, tuck the toes under and sit back onto your heels again for another minute
- Now, tuck the toes the other way, so you are on the outer knuckles of your toes and carefully sit back onto your heels. You can keep some of your weight forward on your hands to make this a bit easier. If this is the first time you are trying this, only stay for maybe 10 seconds
- Now, alternate between the three, rocking forwards with the weight going into your hands to change the position of your feet, and sitting back onto the heels for a stretch. Rock backwards and forwards for 4 rounds of each position
And Finish Off with a Good Foot Rub
- Give your foot a really good rub, as if it’s freezing cold and you need to warm it up
- Grab your toes and give them a good pull
- Slowly press and pull along the metatarsal bones and in the spaces between moving towards each toe – should feel like creating a bit more space in those bones
- Give the foot a really good wring, like you would wring out a heavy wet towel
- Gently squeeze and pull the foot sideways and press your thumbs into the sole of the foot at the same time. Move your thumbs up and down the sole of the foot from the top of the heel to under the ball of the foot
- Bring a finger between each toe (yes, they will fit) and either circle the foot or give it a gentle shake (or both)
- Slowly release the fingers and feel the toes breathe
- Place the foot on the floor in front of you and rub the Achilles tendon with the knuckle of your index finger
- Repeat on the other foot
Your body will thank you. Warning: If you do actually do this every day, you may need to buy new shoes soon…
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