9 Tips for Happy & Healthy Feet
Our feet barely receive the attention that they deserve. Despite the fact that they carry us around every day, we often stuff them into tiny, pointy, heeled, or dead-flat shoes, until we reach our “middle age,” when all of a sudden our feet give up and we're forced into sneakers and comfort shoes for the rest of our lives.
To that I say: No thank you!
Yoga practice is great in creating healthy feet, but if done incorrectly, it can actually put more strain on your already tired soles. This in turn creates misalignment in the rest of the body. Your feet are the foundation of your practice and your moveable existence, so let’s take care of them.
Here are a few tips for creating healthy, happy feet.
1. Walk barefoot.
Take off your shoes and walk around barefoot, especially inside your home. Let your toes spread, feel the temperature of the ground through your feet and embrace the sensations of your feet. Our feet are much like our hands, so let them explore, feel and add to your life!
Bonus: A no-shoes-inside rule also helps to keep the house clean!
2. Pick up your arches.
Whenever you have a few moments, like while you're brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil, try this simple exercise to help your feet become more strong and flexible:
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, and pick up your toes.
- Push down with the mound of the big toe, the mound of the little toe and the two sides of the heel.
- Feel how the arch is nicely lifted here.
- Then allow your toes to return back to the ground without letting your arches collapse inwards or outwards.
- Distribute your weight evenly between the four points to ensure ligaments and tendons aren’t being overworked.
- Don’t worry, your feet won’t turn into alien feet.
3. Spread your toes.
Yoga Toes are great. But fingers are free and work just as well. Interlace your fingers and toes from the pinky inwards. As your toes start to spread, wiggle your interlace right down to the webbing of your fingers and toes.
Squeeze and release. Repeat everyday!
4. Pull your toes.
Bend your forefinger and middle finger and pull on each toe vigorously, waking up the tiny joints and releasing stagnation from the area. Grab a reflexology chart, and you'll see that the toes relate greatly to the eyes, ears, sinus’ and brain functions, yet they are usually the ones that suffer the most in our shoes. Tug at your toes and see if this brings any extra sinus relief.
5. Wear the correct sized shoe.
Don’t squeeze yourself into a shoe that’s too small just because it looks nice, or just because it was the only size left at the store. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a size fits correctly, but creating more awareness in our feet by following the steps above will allow us to choose the correct size when purchasing shoes.
6. Don’t cheat in your feet to achieve a particular Asana.
Balancing poses are much easier when you let your arches collapse and you grip the mat with your toes. For example, in Downward Dog, it’s much easier to get your heels down to the ground if you collapse your arches.
The Warrior poses are all easier if you don’t work the feet, especially the outside edge of your foot. Don’t cheat, there is no benefit if you do! You’ll be placing unnecessary pressure on the ankles, the knees and the hips, stretching ligaments and tendons rather than working the joints and muscles. Pull back in the pose and work slowly, take your time.
7. Keep them clean.
Lots of cleaning, scrubbing, moisturizing and airing, please. No one wants to play with smelly, crackly, mouldy feet!
8. Lift them up.
After a long day on your feet, lie down and kick your feet up a wall in Viparita Karani Mudra, letting all that excess fluid drain out of the feet. Our feet shouldn’t feel like mud bricks at the bottom of our legs, they should feel as supple and mobile as our hands.
9. Love your feet!
As much as you do your hair, skin, eyes, arms…you get the idea. In other words: just don’t forget about your lovely feet!
Tell me, what are your tips for maintaining healthy and happy feet?