Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with feet. Wait, I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not talking about that kind of foot fetish (weirdos), just a plain ol’ healthy fascination with those tootsies.
Here’s why: One quarter of the movements available to your body originate in the feet.
To put it another way, the feet are your foundation for every movement you make. Which makes sense when you consider that there are 33 joints in each foot and 25% of the muscles in your body exist from the ankle down. To quote bio-mechanist, Katy Bowman,
“There aren’t many motions that don’t initiate or pass through your feet. So if you’re trying to work on your calves or your knees or your hips or your spine or your pelvis or your lower back or even your neck, mechanically speaking the foot is, we say, setting the platform or the foundation.”
Is your mind blown? Mine is.
Since we “cast” our feet in stiff or tight shoes we don’t allow our feet much range of motion. Overtime, the muscles of the foot become weak purely from a lifetime of immobility. The ironic part here is that we are likely to be spending a lot of time trying to heal the injuries we are sort of responsible for in the first place. Sigh...
While I'm tempted to tell you to go barefoot, that wouldn't be very responsible of me. The next best thing? Yoga for your feet. Consider this, prehab (or rehab if you're already in the weeds).
To help you stay healthy, here are five of my favorite yoga poses for your feet!
Lie down on your back and place you feet flat on the floor. Pick one leg up and clasp your hands behind your leg. Draw circles with your toes 20 times in each direction. Repeat on the second side.
Point + Flex
While you're still laying down, stretch one leg straight up and overhead. Simply point and flex your foot slowly. Pressing up through your heel as you flex your toes towards your nose and exaggerating the movement as you point your toe up towards the ceiling. Do this 12 times on each foot.
Calf + Arch Smash
Stiff and immobile feet can make your calves tight, too. Calf and arch smashing helps release the tight connective tissue and essentially frees up this entire area of your body, which makes a big difference in your overall mobility. To calf/arch smash, kneel down and cross your shin over the calf muscle of your opposite leg. Take 3 full breaths in each spot as you slowly work your way down the calf until you get to the achilles heel (stay here for an extra minute, it's worth it!).
To "smash" the arch, place the top of your foot into the arch of your foot. Hold here for 5 breaths. Repeat on the second side.
As you are in the same kneeling position, come in to Hero's pose and tuck your toes underneath you. Reach back and use your fingers to spread your toes wide. You'll feel a pretty intense stretch in your toes and under your foot. To intensify the stretch sit all the way back on your heels.
Now that you've done the four poses above, you're ready to really work those feet! Tree pose helps strengthen the muscles of your feet and improves balance, all good things for those tootsies! So as you do the pose focus on drawing up from the inner ankle to stabilize your standing leg. Engage your muscles, deepen you breath and stay here for one minute. Repeat on the other side.