Episode # 21 No More Agony of Da Feet

Our feet are an important part of our overall health and well-being. We’ve all experienced the discomfort of aching feet, but it’s easy to ignore the warning signs of what might become a chronic problem. Foot discomfort can quickly spiral out of control to chronic pain and foot deformities that require surgery to correct.

However, regular stretching, strengthening, and self-massage can keep our feet strong, healthy, and flexible. It can even reverse and correct deformities and conditions such as bunions, hammer toes, Morton’s neuroma, and plantar fasciitis without surgery. It’s true, and I have the feet to prove it.

Start a regular program of foot care today, and save yourself from the agony of da feet. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel and how much more energy you’ll have when you get that spring in your step as you walk out into the world each day. Besides, your feet will thank you for it, and never let you down. Even when you’re wearing stilettos.

“Whole Body Barefoot….Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear” by Katy Bowman

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

Geronimo! Pain Cream

My Fixation With Feet

My fixation and fascination with feet started with several years ago when I began studying ballet from an incredible woman, Jayne Persch. She is a teacher with an impressive background and a passion for life-long learning. However, I didn’t get her fixation with feet. And toes.

At the beginning of every class, not only did she have us exercise our toes, she had us play with them! Ewe! I didn’t want to touch my feet, or my toes. What did that have to do with ballet class?

Pretty much everything, as well as general health and well-being. When your feet hurt, everything hurts. But not only that, it interferes with your ability to feel the floor, stand your ground (so to speak),and messes with your balance, posture, and overall health as well.

Here are a few fun facts about feet.

1). Nearly a quarter of all the bones in our body are in our feet, which allows for the remarkable range of movement and flexibility of our feet. (Then why do they sometimes feel like blocks of wood?)

2). Feet function best when the heel and the front of the foot are at the same level. The toes have to be able to freely flex, extend, and spread. I guess that explains the following fun fact. Which is…

3). Women are 4 times more likely than men to experience foot problems in their lifetime. High heels, anyone?

4). There are a myriad of foot deformities and conditions that can cause pain, dysfunction, and make you miserable. Often times, painful injections or surgery are the only options offered. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and I have proof.

Because after my initial resistance, working my feet began to make sense. I did the exercises. I massaged my feet. I even (ack!) massaged my toes and between my toes. I used tea tree oil to help break up the calcium deposits that were interfering with my circulation.

My feet became softer, more supple, and more flexible. They contacted the ground more like cat paws rather than blocks of wood. My bunions got smaller, my toes re-aligned, my crossover toe magically self-corrected, my Morton’s neuroma disappeared. All without surgery.

Although it creeps me out a little to post my feet for all the world to see, here are the results. It took time and dedication, but it was well worth it.

 

I know everyone doesn’t have access to someone as brilliant as my teacher, so I would like to share some resources that I have found to help you change your feet and rock your world if you choose to do so.

The first is a book titled “Whole Body Barefoot” by Katy Bowman. She describes the biomechanics of the feet, toes, ankles and lower legs in a very clear way that’s easy to understand. And she’s funny. Who knew feet could be funny? She also includes techniques for stretching, exercising, and massaging your feet.

Here’s a great article I found that has video to support the information. Click here.

However, the model demonstrates the exercises too fast. They need to be done slowly, meticulously, and with thoughtful awareness to allow for the changes to occur. In the second video, she rolls to the outside surface of her feet as she splays her toes. That actually weakens the ankle joint as well as the inner thigh muscles which are crucial to stabilizing your knee, hip, and pelvic floor muscles.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Yes, it’s that important. Everybody deserves (and can have) healthy, flexible feet. Here’s to your health!

Fit & Flexible Feet for Life

Health and vitality starts from the ground up. But, unfortunately, many of us don’t think about our feet as part of the equation. After all, they’re so far away from the rest of us, and often they are out of sight, out of mind. Until they start rebelling from lack of neglect. And nothing can drain our energy and zest for life like the agony of da feet. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips to keep you on your toes and your feet fit and flexible for life.

Massage your feet and play with your toes.

Get re-acquainted with your own feet. Take off your shoes and socks and feel the shape of your feet and toes. I know, the first time I was asked to do this I was a little freaked out. Most dancers are very intimate with their feet, but I took ignoring mine to a fine art. Until I was plagued with foot pain, huge bunions, a hammer toe, and a Morton’s neuroma. That got my attention.

Start by gently massaging the sole of your foot, using gentle pressure where you feel discomfort or tightness. Spend extra time on these areas, gently working the sore spots until they begin to release. It helps to use lotion or foot cream. Continue by working your way up to the toes, massaging each individual toe. Then, interlace your fingers between your toes so you are spreading them your toes apart with your fingers. I know–it’s supremely uncomfortable at first but eventually it feels really good, and your feet will love you for it. This is to make up for all of the time (and the years) your toes have been squished together in shoes.

 

Strengthen your toes and stretch your feet.

Next, it’s time to build some strength while you stretch your feet at the same time. Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your heels and the balls of your feet firmly on the floor, lift all 5 of your toes. Keep your toes lifted and then try to spread them apart. Not all of your toes will cooperate, and you may have to give them a little bit of encouragement with your hands to show them the way. This isn’t cheating. Instead, it is sending signals to your brain to activate the motor pathways responsible for mobilizing your toes.

Practice lifting and lowering your toes multiple times, and notice the stretch in the soles of your feet. You are actually stretching the plantar fascia at the same time you are strengthening the small muscles of the feet and your toes at the same time. Pretty cool, huh?

Stretch your calves….a lot.

Tight calf muscles can wreak havoc on your feet, as well as your knees, hips, low back, neck and shoulders. Everything is interconnected and goes up and down the kinetic chain. Which is simply a fancy way of saying if one thing is off, it impacts affects every part of your body.

Stretch your calves by doing the classic “runner’s stretch.” Stand facing a wall with one foot in front of the other and your hands against the wall. Gently press your back foot into the floor. Keep your head up and your pelvis pressing forward. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat.

Repeat the stretch again, but this time keep the back knee slightly bent as you press your heel into the floor. You won’t go nearly as far in this position, but that’s okay. This stretch targets the deeper calf muscle and the Achilles’s tendon. it’s all good.

NOTE: You’ll get far more benefit from doing these exercises for short time intervals several times a day rather than for long periods a few times a week. Not only will your feet feel better, your ankles will get stronger and your lower legs will get more toned.

I have a lot more to say regarding my new-found fascination with feet and the role it plays in our health and well-being. But, I think I’ll save some of those pearls for another day.