Whichever class I am teaching always starts with the feet. A strong, balanced foundation is so important and assessing your feet can tell so much about what is happening in the rest of your body.
Not just plates of meat.
There are 33 joints in your feet, thousands of sensors on the soles and one quarter of all the muscles in your body are in the ankles and feet.
The direction your feet point can give you so much information with regard to strength, weakness or tension in your legs, hips, pelvis and pelvic floor.
Are you flat footed? Do you have bunions or hammertoes? Are the muscles in your feet tight and tense – more used to gripping to keep your shoes on or from chronic stress or anxiety? Are your feet over-sensitive to textures? Can you walk over stones and gravel?
Are your boots made for walking?
What shoes do you wear? Are they foot friendly or do they stop your foot from utilising it’s natural function keeping it bound tight and unable to feel what it is walking on? Do they impact on the mobility, function and strength of your feet?
Starting to untangle the reasons for your foot problems will have a positive effect on your knees, hips, pelvic floor, lower back, pelvis, neck and may even reduce headaches.
It all starts on the mat
Foot gym, exercises specifically designed to reduce the effects of shoes are where we start. Once your feet are able to start functioning better pain and stiffness in the rest of your body can be reduced, even though it can be odd to work on your back ache by increasing flexibility of your feet.
A little bit sprinkled through your day
Working on strengthening and mobilising your feet can be taken off the mat by, for example, wearing foot friendly shoes, creating a stone path and wriggling your toes at every opportunity.
Why is this important? Years of lack of use that creates this tension and weakness in your feet cannot be undone by doing an hour of exercise once a week, if the rest of the time you are still immobilising your feet. Making changes to how you use your feet during the day will give you the greatest benefits.