How are your feet? Your ankles? Consider how much pressure and weight they both carry. Your feet and ankles are incredibly complex mechanical structures. There are 26 bones, 33 muscles and 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Amazing that the number of bones in your feet make up almost a quarter of the bones in your body. Your remarkable feet connect you to your entire body with meridian lines and nerves beginning and ending in your feet. When points in your feet are pressed, they can stimulate each organ in your body. Poor posture, dysfunctional use of your feet (rolling outward or inward) and types of shoes can all contribute to ankle and foot pain. It is very important that you move your feet and ankles in order to distribute the synovial fluid. And remember to stay well hydrated. Consider that exercising your feet and ankles also helps you maintain balance when you travel over uneven surfaces.
Are you taking care of your feet? Let me help. First, from a standing position do a full body scan. Stand up nice and straight, lift your knee caps to engage your quads, pull your shoulder blades back, lift the pit of the abdomen, position your ears over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your pelvis. Think of your pelvis as a bowl making sure it is not tilted forward or backward, and see that your hips are directly over your knees and your knees slightly forward of your ankles.
Now that you are standing up nice and straight and in alignment, close your eyes. Scan your body and notice your feet. Where and how is your weight distributed throughout your feet? Is there more weight on your right foot or left foot? Is your weight distributed in one area more than the other? Are you able to lift all 10 toes? Are you able to lift just your big toe? Just lifting all 10 toes can help with your overall foot and ankle health because that stretches your Achilles tendon. If don’t feel comfortable standing or struggle with balance, try to do toe lifts while you are sitting in a chair. Try spreading your toes apart before putting them back on the floor.
There are many effective exercises that you can do to make your feet more pliable, and they include traction, strengthening and stretching, soft ball treatment, nerve flossing, and isometric exercises. While there are a plethora of choices, from a yoga therapist’s perspective, here is one simple, interesting, and valuable ankle and foot series that I have started integrating into my own practice.
From a seated position hold your left shin with your left hand and then insert the fingers of your right hand between the toes of your left foot. Ultimately, try to get the webs of your fingers to touch the webs of your toes. Of course, this may be easier said than done, but just try it. We all start from where we are and in time after dedication and practice, we get better. Really try to dig those fingers in between your toes.
Rotate your ankle in gentle circles in one direction trying to get the maximum movement from your ankle without causing any pain. Then rotate your foot in the other direction. Now, move your foot back and forth a few times, then move just the toes back and forth. Then gently twist the foot so that the bones of the mid-foot glide on one another. Finally, cup your left hand over your right hand and squeeze the toes.
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