In yoga (and in balance in general) our foundation is our feet. If there’s alignment issues in a standing yoga posture, we look at the feet and work our way up. Even slight changes in foot position can improve your yoga practice. When our feet are faced with an injury, even a slight one, it can affect our balance and movement patterns. The foot is an amazing structure that’s designed to help propel us forward while keeping the body above balanced and strong. Like the foundation of a house, feet are designed to withstand weight, activity and movement. They are flexible enough to do so while navigating uneven ground, surfaces that change, and challenging footwear. Sadly, Imbalances in the feet can lead to issues such as ankle injuries, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, neuropathies, etc.
To understand a little more about this important body part, let’s delve deeper into the feet. But before jumping in feet first, we must keep in mind that the calves and knees are important to foot health as well. Try to keep the muscles above and below the knees (thighs, calves, and shins) strong and flexible with regular exercise and stretches.
The feet themselves are made up of LOTS of bones, muscles, and other structures. The bones of the foot include the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula), which connect to a bone called the talus to form the ankle joint. The talus sits on top of the calcaneus, or heel bone. It also connects with the bones that form the shape of the foot. The mid-foot is made up of the tarsal/metatarsal bones. Then the phalanges form our toes.
Bones provide structure to the foot, then arches (two that go from front to back and one side to side) act like shock absorbers as we walk, run, skip, dance, etc. There are lots of muscles. Some of them start in the leg and go into the foot allowing for motion at the ankle. Within the foot lay the intrinsic muscles. These are 4 layers of muscles that help with all the small movements necessary to navigate the earth. On top of all the muscles is fascia (a sheet of connective tissue covering and surrounding the muscles). There are so many structures in these feet of ours, it’s easy to see how problems can occur. So make sure to take care of your feet so that they can take care of you.
To enhance foot health, try:
- Wearing Supportive Shoes
- Rolling a golf or lacrosse ball under foot to help with tightness (i.e. plantar fasciitis)
- Stretch the Calf and Hamstring Muscles
- Strengthen the Hip Muscles (This will help with balance and therefore also support the feet)
You can also try these yoga postures to help stretch and strengthen the foot:
- Adho Mukha Svavasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
- Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Prasarita Podottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold)
- Janu Sirsasana (One-Legged Forward Fold)
- Prvta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved One-Legged Forward Fold)
If you’d like a personalized sequence or an individual session focused on your health goals, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join me for one of my classes. See my offerings on my schedule page.
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