By Bonny-Lynn Russell
The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. – Leonardo da Vinci
Our feet are the foundation of our body and in a healthy, uniformly developed body, the feet should be supple, strong and flexible. With an increasing number of foot ailments in our society (such as plantar fasciitis, bunions and achilles tendonitis) it has become clear that we are not showing enough love to our feet! In fact, many of us who run, hike and play sports experience foot pain and think it is just a fact of life.
What can we do about it?
Stretching and strengthening our feet will dramatically improve their health and vitality, and therefore improve our quality of life. Through the myofascial link system of our body, our deep core chain is completely connected to our feet. If we improve foot health, our functional core strength will become more readily available, improving our balance, taking pressure off our spine and allowing movement to become more natural.
Pilates instructors use a Foot Corrector machine specifically for the feet, but the benefits of this machine can be easily replicated at home using everyday objects.
Did you know? Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles.
1) Begin by rolling the ball under the foot. You can control the amount of pressure by adjusting how much weight you put on the ball.
2) With the tennis ball in a fixed position under the ball of the foot, press your weight into the ball (you can control how much) and try to feel your foot surrounding it.
3) Release your weight and move the ball down the foot a little to a new spot. Repeat pressing some of your weight into the ball. Release, move the ball, and repeat.
4) Continue working down your foot all the way to the heel and work you way back up the foot. You can experiment with having the ball towards the inside and outside edges of the foot. If you find tender places, its a probable indication that the muscles are very tight.
5) Once you complete a few passes up and down the foot, take a few walking steps. The foot you just stretched on the ball should feel a little more supple, grounded and have more surface area on the floor.
6) Repeat with other foot. For results, this should be done for a few minutes daily or at least once a week.
1) Begin by placing your foot on a hand towel. Keeping your heel in one place, lift the sole of your foot up, lower it onto the towel, spreading your toes.
2) Pull and gather the towel towards your heel by using the muscles of your arch and toes.
3) Lift the sole of your foot again (keeping the heel down) and repeat step #2. Continue until the towel physically moves and is gathered at your heel.
4) Now you can reverse the process. Keeping your heel anchored, lift the sole of your foot, curl the toes down to the towel and then push the towel away from your heel.
5) Continue Step #4 until the towel is lengthened back out to its starting position.
6) Repeat with other foot, both directions. Again, this can be done for a few minutes daily or at least once a week.
Here’s to Happy Feet!