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!
Wow, thanks for all this info!! I am always wearing slippers in the house and high heels usually outside the house. Going to have to change that! 🙂
Hi love, yes switch to barefoot mode!! 🙂
Any thoughts on feet cramping during yoga sessions? My dad is a VERY beginner at yoga (taking classes for the first time). He has mentioned several times that his feet cramp up a lot (thru the arches and also the toes). Could there be a specific reason for this or does he just need to stretch his feet more before class?
Thanks for any ideas!
Yes, if he is used to being in constricted shoes all the time, the movement of yoga would use so many muscles in his feet that he is probably not used to exercising and using. It is very good for him. But yes, tell him to sit back on this heels to open up his feet, and stretch them more before he goes into class. He will feel much better. 🙂
When I was little, my mom and dad would always yell at me for not wearing slippers indoors, but I could never stand them. I knew I was doing something right! 🙂
Aren’t we supposed to tuck the pelvis?
Yes but not overly so! 😉
This was such an interesting article, thanks!
I always walk round bare foot as soon as I am home and as I work at home a few days a week that works out to be quite a lot of time. I’ll keep this in mind from now on.
Thanks for the great tips, Kimberly. Although I am writing this from a man’s perspective, you gave some really great tips on how to treat the feet. Being that I grew up playing soccer most of my life, we usually wanted the shoe to fit like a glove (as tight to the foot as possible). Anyway, I wear dress shoes most of the day so I definitely “kick them off” when I get home. Really liked the reminder about treating the foot as if it has four corners with regard to the yoga practice. I practically forgot what I had learned from my yoga instructor!!! Anyway, keep up the great post. By the way, your feet look great to me 🙂
HI Rick, Sorry to skew towards the ladies! My tips of course, apply to you and other men also. 🙂
Thanks for the advice, Kimberly! Like a lot of people, I’m one who kicks off my shoes as soon as I get home too…but beyond that I go through phases–for 2 or 3 days I’ll make a point of treating my feet, and then I’ll stop. I’m going to make it a late New Year’s resolution to spend a few minutes on them each night.
I also have noticed that whenever I pay attention to trying to stand correctly I feel like I’m tipping over. Have to work on that too. I tend to ‘roll in’ on my ankles so I’ve tried to be really aware of rolling back out. The little muscles in our feet will respond in time, right?
Hi Love! Yes, that is a habit. Your body and feet will adjust over time!
I am confusing, do we supposed to tuck our pelvis or not? because I heard so many times, even in yoga classes that we have to tied up our belly. So I am confuse. I usually tend to stick out my belly and of course my lower back pays for it. This is one of the reasons that I tried to hold my belly tied just a little.
Any clarification will be greatly appreciated!
At home we were house shoes that are pretty relaxing but barefoot….I am too crazy about feeling dust in my feet, even if it is little. I will try. Thank you and sorry that I could not talk to you yesterday after the class but unfortunately I had to work.
HI love, some people tuck their pelvis in so much it pushes their whole belly forward. do not overtuck!
Hopefully one day I can practice yoga as well as you. How long have you practiced? All of your poses astound me!
About 6 years. 🙂 The diet really helps the body get strong and flexible!
Thank you so much for sharing your tips for better foot care. I’m a reflexologist and tell everyone how beneficial it is (for the whole body not just feet) to walk barefoot, rub your feet and stretch your toes. They don’t believe me. I’ll have to send them to your website so they can get a second opinion.
Just ran across this website this morning…in 2/27/04 a drunk driver hit me head on and broke various bones in my body, including crushing all bones in both my feet, they re-built my feet instead of removing them and said I would probably never walk again, but with intense theraphy I was walking in 7 months and back to work as I had 5 kids and at that time a husband, only problem I walk different and my geet always feel crushed and I have severe pain all ober my body…I am 56 and still working but growing so very tired of the pain, the accident changed my life completely, my husband left last year with a younger woman, and let the kids and I on our own. My thoughts are that maybe alot of my pains throughout my body has to be coming from my feet….I know nothing about yoga or the feet and how they affect my body…I’m tired of pain all day and night and I do take pain meds, but very little as I don’t like meds. Please afvise what would be the best thing for me to start on your program to help my feet, my body and save my life! Sorry trying to cram so much in such a little paragraph! Hope you can understand my delima. Thanks and have a great day! Connie