Quick! Without looking, what are your feet doing right now? It’s a question I never really thought of answering before my RYT 200 training. Our feet do so much for us and there’s a tendency to take them for granted. Most of us don’t use our feet to the extent that we could. Here are a few ways I keep my tootsies happy and engaged.
1.) Use all four corners- feet have corners? Yep…sort of… There is debate among different yoga instructors whether the foot has 3 or 4 main points of contact with the ground. I prefer the 4 corner route because it allows for more subtle adjustments when you consider the inner and outer heel as separate points versus the entirety of the heel as just one point. This is useful for engaging all the small muscles and connective tissues of the foot and distributes your weight evenly.
2.) Love your arches- By pressing in to all 4 corners of the feet while standing, the arches are lifted and strengthened. This is particularly helpful for people who stand a lot for work, have flat feet, or over pronate. Activating the arches brings stability to the foot and as a result, to the entirety of the body as it stands. This takes undue pressure out of the knees, hips, and lower back.
3.) Roll it out- some people use frozen golf balls, I prefer racquet balls or a pinkie. This loosens and massages the fascia, or connective tissues of the feet and is great for relieving plantar fascitis, painful inflammation of the fascia.
4.) Go Barefoot- shoes inhibit the ability of the feet to stabilize the body and weaken the connective tissues. Allowing your feet to experience uninhibited contact with the ground helps those muscles to work and brings stability to the base of the body. It also helps to “ground” or calm the mind. Lose the socks, ditch the shoes! Bare it all!
5.) Keep ’em clean- the skin of the foot is the most absorbant in the body. Don’t believe me? Rub a Clove of garlic on the soles of the feet and see how quickly you can actually taste garlic. There are many modes of holistic medicine that take advantage of this fact; when using essential oils as medicine, it’s common to apply the oils to the soles of the feet for fastest response. Chinese foot reflexology connects various points of the feet with each system in the body! Keeping the feet clean and dry can have a huge impact on overall health. I recommend a hot water foot soak using 1 gallon hot water, 1/4c Epsom salts, and 3 drops peppermint oil (or a drop of cypress oil to improve circulation) nightly, or at least once a week as a detox. This keeps the feet clean and opens the pores, removing dirt and toxins. The heat of the bath relaxes the delicate muscles in the feet and is overall a rejuvenating experience.
6.) Turn ’em up- feet take a lot of abuse from general weight bearing, standing, running, stubbing toes, wearing shoes, etc. Letting them have a break once in a while allows for the blood to circulate optimally and gives them the chance to rest. Elevation of the feet above the head and heart can help to regulate blood pressure and reduce stress. 5 minutes spent in “legs up the wall” pose is the equivalent to a 20 minute power nap in terms of restful effects on the mind and body.
Feet are weird, especially mine. But they’re the only ones I’ve got, so I may as well take care of them and thank them for the work they do for me on a daily basis. As you go through the day, ask yourself, “how are my feet?”