Your feet: they take you everywhere yet rarely receive any love… until they hurt! Your feet endure the brunt not just of your standing yoga poses but moving you from place to place every day off your mat… and don’t get me started on the shoes! In order to stay strong, feet like the rest of your body need to be strong and supple – able to hold you up, bounce around and roll from heel to arch with each step. Creating a strong, supple base with your feet is often overlooked and dismissed.
Your feet are your foundation for the majority of poses in yoga and every day off your mat. There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons just in one foot. (One-quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet!) That’s a lot of moving parts that need to work together to create stability and mobility simultaneously.
There are three specific arches with which we work in yoga:
- Medial Longitudinal Arch: This is the one we refer to when buying arch supports at the store. It runs from your big toe mound to your heel bone.
- Transverse Arch: find the base of your big toe and draw a line with your finger to the base of your little toe. You can feel the slight arch.
- Lateral Longitudinal Arch: Feel from the base of your little toe to your heel bone. For most of us, this isn’t overly pronounced.
These aches create a dome—the strongest structure found in nature. It has no folding point—no specific point of weakness. Think of it as a trampoline–it gives us spring and shock absorption. We want to avoid rigidity and keep it pliable.
Warm up your feet!
Sure, you could invest in toe spreaders, but you have 2 free sets with you all the time – your fingers! (Word of warning: remove your rings first. Your toes will thank you!)
It’s easiest to work with one foot at a time starting with the space between your 4thand 5th toes. Take your opposite hand to your foot, (ie: right hand to left foot) Work your fingers all the way up the webbing so you are “holding hands” with your feet. Gently work your feet back and forth up to 5 minutes. Before the second side, take a look at your feet next to each other. What a difference! Now, get in there and make the other side match.
Broken Toe Pose (the name could not be worse!):
Start on all 4’s with knees and feet separated hip-width distance. Curl your toes under so you are on the balls of your feet. (Be sure to get that sneaky pinkie toe!) Slowly move your hips back to your heels—one day sitting your hips on your heels. You may need a block under your hips. You may also need to stay standing on your knees with toes curled under for some time. Again, accrue time in this pose slowly. Fascia takes time and patience to shift.
If you would like more tips and tricks to work with your body in or outside of a class, sign up for the Muscle, Bones and Movement Workshop Series October 12th and 13that Juicy Power Yoga. Details and registration found here!