Stretch Your Feet (Part -4)

Stretch Your Feet (Part -4)

Stretch Your Feet (Part -4)

How Fit Are Your Feet?

I have always been fascinated with baby’s feet and I might say quite repulsed by adult feet.  I had such a foot phobia that I believe it was a prerequisite to my choosing my spouse.  Crazy as that may sound, it is true.  But I must say I have gone full circle with feet.  The only thing I can attribute it to is I befriended my feet.  I began to see them not as the nemesis and cause for my discomfort, but as a mistreated, abused and neglected part of my anatomy.

As I began to slowly introduce my feet to this idea of bare footedness, they have grown stronger, softer and prettier.  I love my feet.  So many people only pay attention to the feet when they hurt, and then, like most of our ailments, we look for a quick fix to the problem.
 For over 1000 years Chinese women would bind their feet as a mark of a woman of wealth.  They began this practice when the girl was 4-7 years old.  It was thought that the perfect bound foot was only 3” long.  This created structural damage to the foot not to mention the lifelong pain the women endured.  Although a bit exaggerated example of the effect of shoes, it does cause one to ponder, could our shoes be restructuring our feet?  I believe so and am finding more and more proof.

Shoes, I believe are the causative factor to many of our feet issues.  And I am not alone.
Dr. Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has concluded: ‘A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems. ‘Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented, people ran in very thin-soled shoes had strong feet and had a much lower incidence of knee injuries. ‘There is all sorts of research to back this up and a whole new running technology out there to back and support my experience.

While I am not suggesting everyone needs to play football or tennis or run in bare feet, I am suggesting that looking into barefoot runners for conditioning and strengthening the feet should be a top priority if they wish to stay healthy.  Going barefoot as often as possible is one of the best ways to strengthen the feet.  I know this from experience!  It is important to discern that there is not a structural problem with the feet, but what I am seeing today is the result of ……………………… SHOES.

It has come to my attention that going straight into barefoot runners should be done gradually, I was fortunate in that I had done so much work to strengthen my feet and my ankles that making the switch was easy and painless.  Because I have directed so much care to my feet, I have found many creative ways to strengthen lengthen and create space in my feet. 

Today everyone has got to pay a little more attention to care and strength of the feet; they are after all that propels you forward, backward and side to side.  They are one of the most important physical attributes we have to move through life with ease, yet the most neglected part of our body.

Take time to include your feet in your training for sports as well as your training for life.  Yoga should have a strong emphasis on strengthening as well as creating space in the feet.  Kick-off those shoes and let's start getting those feet fit!  I will be sharing more information on the feet as they are our connection to the earth, our foundation.  Without a strong foundation, the structure above will collapse.  With correct flexibility, strength balance and endurance your feet should outlast you and be able to bounce back with grace and ease to the challenges today we meet.

Here is a simple balancing exercise that can be done every day to help find flexibility, strength balance and endurance, Single-Leg Balance Reach:

Balance exercises typically require standing on one leg, which puts stress on the ankle to make it stronger. The single-leg balance reach will strengthen your ankle if you maintain correct foot alignment. It is to allow your ankle to roll and your foot to flatten or shift as you do this exercise. Instead, keep each foot flat so you can feel both sides of your heel and your little toes and your big toes flush to the floor, with your arches lifted. To perform a right single leg balance reach, stand on your right leg, with the left foot an inch from the ground next to your right. Extend your left foot straight forward, and then bring it back to the center. Extend your left foot out to the left side, and then return to center. Finish by extending your left foot behind you and returning it next to the right. Repeat on the left.
 I think next we will look at the arch or should I say arches of the foot. 


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