Feet make you go "ew"? Granted, they aren't the most attractive parts of our body. Our dear feet do cop a bad wrap though or at the very least some moderate neglect. Every day our feet are there for us, walking us around and keeping us upright, but we don't really think about them until they start hurting. These overlooked appendages are a powerhouse of movement and strength, in each foot, there are 26 bones with 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Yet, they are susceptible to a cornucopia of injury and disease if mistreated.
Beyond the impact an unhappy foot has on our ability to you know, walk, the implications of misalignment and poor foot health reverberate throughout our body. As the song goes;
The toe bone's connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone's connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone...
You get the picture. Often podiatrists treat peoples feet to help them manage pain in their knees, hips, and back. Like all things in health, prevention is better than cure, so whether your job requires you to spend long hours on your feet, you wear high heels too often, you enjoy hitting the pavement on runs, our just generally like having feet to walk on, your feet need your attention. Yoga for your feet helps you stretch and strengthen all those tiny joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments for a long life of walking around.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog
The staple yoga pose, Adho Mukha Svanasana helps you stretch your ankle, claves and relieve tension in the plantar fascia.
To really engage all the muscles and tendons alternate lifting each heel up and stretching it back down towards the ground.
Ardha Bhekasana - Half Frog
This pose can sometimes be a little bit intense on the knees, so take it easy. Keep in mind you are trying to nurture and stretch the full front of the leg, from quadricep, to shin, to ankle.
Begin by lying on your belly, lift yourself onto your forearms in Sphynx pose. Turn your supporting arm in on a 45-degree angle, take the same arm as leg your going to stretch and reach around to grab your foot as you bend it up behind you. Turn the hand holding your foot so your fingers face forward, use your palm to stretch the front of your foot by bending your toes down.
Vrksasana - Tree Pose
Ah the infamous Tree Pose, always just that bit harder than it looks. Vrkasana is an amazing pose to help your stabilising muscles and ligaments around your ankle.
Begin in Tadasana (mountain pose), bring your hands to your chest in prayer position. Shift your weight to your supporting leg, be sure not to let your hip pop out, engage the leg, lifting the knee and squeezing the buttock. Slowly lift your other leg, bending at the knee, there are three placement options for your foot, just above the ankle, just under the knee, or above the knee on the inner thigh. Choose the one that feels most comfortable for you, just be sure not to put your foot on your knee. Don't be affraid to push your foot into you supporting leg to find stability.
Ustrasana - Camel Pose with Tucked Toes
This pose is great for stretching your plantar fascia and your toes.
Kneeling on the floor with your knees hip width apart, rotating your thighs inwards just slightly. Engage your buttocks, but don't overly tense them. Tuck your tailbone slightly, take a deep breath lifting through the torso, ease back, aim to keep your legs perpendicular to the floor. This is a back bending pose primarily, but don't push yourself, it often takes practice to get this pose, and even then you don't have to touch your feet to get the benefits. If your lower back starts to crunch ease your thighs back and take turns gently twisting to reach one foot come back to centre and then reach for the other. Or, use blocks to reach down to.
Viparita Karani - Legs Up the Wall with a V stretch
A great passive streatch for the abductors (the tendons that run on the inner thigh and help you bring your legs together), if these are too tight they can impeed your foot arch causing pain when walking.
This posture is fantasic after a long day on your feet. Place your mat up against the wall, sit close to the wall, facing it. Lie down and try to scootch yourself a bit closer to the wall. Put your feet up and then just gently let them fall to either side.