Happy Healthy Feet
A heathy foot is the starting line to a balanced body. Providing a stable base, the foot supports, aligns and cushions both the muscular and skeletal system. Even with such a small surface, the foot and ankle together have 26 bones...one quarter of the bones in the entire human body. Keeping your feet nimble and strong are not only important for the feet themselves but also necessary in supporting joints and muscles around the legs, knees, pelvis and hips. It's important to exercise and pamper your feet on a weekly basis, getting a foot massage once a year is not what I'm talking about here. Our human feet were originally created to walk barefoot in nature moving and molding to the ground beneath us, which naturally exercised the foot. Over time shoes, a sedentary lifestyle, walking on pavement have removed the need to walk barefoot. With an estimated 100,000 - 200,000 exteroceptors in the sole of each foot, your feet are among the most nerve-rich parts of your body. Exteroceptors gather information from the outside world and relay them back into the body and brain. By releasing tension in your feet you are not only igniting instant stimulation, you are relaying a release throughout the entire leg and sacrum, and possibly up to your shoulders and cranium. Don't be surprised if certain movements are difficult, slightly painful or trigger other responses in the body. Just be aware and take note. Below are four exercises you can incorporate into your busy schedule. Practice them in bed, on the couch or during a routine work out. There are an array of benefits to healthy feet such as ...
-prevention and relief from plantar fasciitis
-slowing down and possibly arresting the the development of bunions
The simple tools I recommend for these exercises are a thera-band and massage balls. The thera-band adds fluidity and resistance to the exercises and the massage balls put added controlled pressure onto the bottom of the foot, similar to a massage. If you don't have these available you can still practice the exercises on their own.
1. Ankle circles:
Hold the ends of the thera-band with each hand. Laying on your back, bend your left knee and keep your left foot on the floor. Then, place the thera-band over the ball of your right foot and lift the leg up as though you were trying to stand on the ceiling. Hold the thera-band securely with both hands but relax the shoulders. Make sure that the thera-band is supporting the foot, but you are still able to move the foot comfortably. If you can't straighten your leg, keep it slightly bent. Slowly and evenly begin to circle the right foot, without moving the leg, 10 times. Reverse the circle and begin the the left for 10 times. Then do it again to the right 10 time and then again to the left 10 times. Bring the leg down. Switch legs and repeat.
2. Writing the alphabet:
Using the same set up as the exercise #1, instead of circles begin the write out the alpha bet with the right foot. Draw out the letter "A", "B", "C" and so on. It will be surprisingly tiring. Switch legs and repeat.
3. Point and flex:
Using the same set up as the exercise #1, start by reaching your right heel toward the ceiling and pulling the top of your foot toward the ground in a flexed position. Then, resisting the foot with the thera-band over the ball of your foot, try to push the ball of the foot toward the ceiling articulating the foot until it reaches a pointed position. Holing the thera-band taught slowly articulate the foot back to a starting flexed position. Point and flex the foot 10 times. Switch legs and repeat.
4. Toe stretchers:
You know how those toe separators feel when getting a pedicure?? You are going to simulate that same feeling with your fingers. Begin by sitting on your bum with your legs out straight in front of you or on a chair. Take your right foot and place it over your left knee. Then place your right index finger and place it between your right big toe and second toe. Place your middle finger between your second and third toe, your ring finger between your third and fourth tow and pinkie between your fourth and fifth toe. Really get those fingers in there, hang out for 1-3 minutes. Switch legs and repeat.
5. Balancing on one foot:
Take you shoes off, lift the right foot up off of the ground. Balance on your left foot for 30-60 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
6. Standing on a massage ball:
Standing barefoot, with a massage ball on the floor, hold on to a solid surface with both hands for balance. Then place your right foot onto of the ball, putting as little or as much pressure as desired onto the ball. Roll the foot up and down over the ball until you find the most sensitive spot on the foot. Hold it there for 20 seconds and slowly step off of the ball. Switch legs and repeat.