Have you ever thought about how much your feet influence how the rest of your body moves and feels? Did you know that the strength and mobility of your feet can determine whether your ankles, knees, hips and spine align properly? Any misalignment below can also create problems further up the chain, causing your shoulders to hunch and your head, neck and gaze to be drawn too far forward. Your feet are your foundation and just like a house, if the foundation is weak, the rest of the house will be too. They may be small but they matter a lot!
When you consider that the average person takes 3,000 – 4,000 steps every day, that adds up to more than 10 million steps over ten years! If you pronate or supinate (your ankles roll in and the arch of your foot collapses or your ankles roll out and your arch lifts, concentrating your weight on the outer edge of your foot) each step will create a chain reaction as your body compensates. Imagine the implications this will have over time, especially to your knees and hips. This may also affect the health of your spine which can lead to back pain, neck pain and headaches. Now do you think the feet are important?
So what can you do? Well, to start, give your feet the attention they deserve! At Bodylines, we always incorporate some form of “footwork” in our classes. Whether it’s the quintessential pilates exercise ‘Footwork’ or working various foot positions during mat classes, we want to bring awareness to your feet and ankles, help you identify weaknesses and gain strength and mobility.
Want more? Here are some things you can do at home:
Heel raises: stand behind a chair or at a countertop for balance, with feet parallel, lift and lower your heels paying close attention to the alignment of your knees and ankles with your feet. Be sure to roll through your foot with equal weight distributed to the inner and outer edge of the ball of your foot.
Ball rolling: Take a ball (a lacrosse or field hockey ball work great but a tennis ball will work too if you want something a little softer) and gently roll your foot over it. Roll the full length of your foot, from your heel to ball of your foot, making sure to roll the outside, mid-section and arch. Next, roll side-to-side.
Foot towel exercise (toe grabbing): place a small towel, such as a wash cloth, on the floor (must be a smooth surface, not carpeted). Grab the towel with your toes and ‘scrunch’ the towel, pulling it towards your heel. Reverse this, spreading the towel out again and repeat.
Picking up Marbles: use your toes to pick up marbles or other small objects from the floor (be careful not to step on them!)
Move your feet while you’re working or watching television: point and flex your feet, flex and spread your toes, pull your toes and heels towards one another as you lift your arch.