I’ve been thinking about feet because mine in particular have been a little achy. I have an interesting “foot life” as I do teach and practice yoga a lot, where I get to be barefoot, but I also do live in New York City, and have lots of business meetings and social events, so I wear my fair share of high heels also!
Did you know that 25% of our body’s bones are in our feet? Our feet are delicate entities that support our whole body, and have thousands of nerves at the bottom that correspond to every organ and every part of our body. If we aren’t standing correctly on our feet, it can have a negative impact on our organs and our posture. For instance, Dr. Norman Walker stated that if women consistently wear heels that are over 2 inches, our digestive system can be thrown out of alignment and it can contribute to constipation and the holding of toxicity in our bodies.
We actually weaken our feet be wearing shoes, as encasing them this way weakens their natural strength. We were meant to walk on varying natural terrain and for our feet to be more flexible- nowadays we all walk on artificial surfaces and most always with shoes.
Be sure when you are walking that your feet point straight forward. To test this, you can find straight lines along the floor or sidewalk and see how closely your feet stick to the line. Most people walk with their toes slightly turned out. This interferes with the proper use of muscles and ligament in the feet, as well as with our knees and hips, and over time can cause damage. At first it might seem funny, but if you stay conscious of it and adapt to it, it will soon feel natural.
I know from yoga that if our posture is not good, then we don’t take in enough oxygen as we should, for our lungs are compromised in some way. We need as much oxygen as possible to nourish our blood, and we can actually have more cravings and feel more hungry when we are not breathing correctly (see my blog “A Simple But Little Discussed Weight Loss Tip”). If we tuck our pelvises under (which most people do) it also weakens our abdominal muscles! I have some yoga clients that are very interested in toning their belly. While we work on that in our private sessions, I always remind them that if their posture was correct, they would be working out their belly, without even thinking about it, all of the time! Push weight into the back of your heels so you feel rooted down and can stand up straight and strong. I always tell my students to think of the four corners of your feet (thinking of your foot as a rectangle) and distributing weight through the four corners equally. The best way to know if you are doing this correctly is to see if you can actually lift all ten toes (!), then place them down firmly into the floor.
Here are some easy ways to start taking better care of your feet:
1. Walk barefoot as much as possible. I don’t let anyone wear shoes in my apt., and if you don’t already have a “take your shoes off as soon as you enter” policy, it is a great idea to start now! The more you are barefoot the better. Okay we all know (including me!) that high heels are bad and we shouldn’t wear them every day. Can you wear comfy shoes to work and swap out right before? Can you let your feet rest under your desk where no one can see? I’ve also read that those new workout shoes like the “FitFlops” are terrible. The shape of the sole creates and an unnatural gait pattern that can harm the feet, knees, hips and spine.
2. Spread and stretch your feet (just like other parts of your body), and lift your toes! Our feet need lovin’ too! I often have my students sit back with their heels, but tuck their toes under and gently open up the feet. I try to do this once a day to let my feet open up.
Run your foot repeatedly over a tennis ball – you can do this while you are in a seated position (even under your work desk!) and then slowly stand, increasing the weight on your foot.
Get some toe spacers! They are available at a lot of nail salons and drug stores. They fit between your feet and spread them out. They seem weird, at first they might scare your husband or your boyfriend a little bit! ☺ But if you get used to putting them on while reading or watching TV, they help your toes relearn their normal spreading motion.
3. Professional or at-home reflexology. I have been getting some treatments lately, which I’m a huge fan of, and I always feel great afterwards. But that is not always feasible. But EVERY night in bed I do put coconut oil all over my feet, and take at least 2 minutes to massage every part of the bottom of my feet (did I mention it provides stress & headache relief?), massaging every single nerve. You can get yourself a reflexology foot chart, similar to the one that I have posted, if you want to work on specific areas. For instance, the middle of your left foot is your liver spot. Might want to give that spot an extra squeeze! ☺
Happy feet and happy walking to you loves!