Third Thursday Yoga: Building Stability and Mobility
Written By: Meghan Presnell, FNP-C
Let’s not tiptoe around it, most of us do not have happy feet. The average American spends anywhere from four to six hours on their feet, daily. Together our feet are one of the most complex structures in our body, containing over 50 bones, 60 joints, and 200 muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Yet how often do we neglect this precious foundation by cramming our feet into old shoes with no support, boots that restrict blood flow, and high heels that throw our entire alignment off? Unfortunately, fashion has not been kind to our feet. There are hundred examples of foot damaging practices dating back thousands of years from the ancient art of foot binding in China, to European platforms in the 1300s that ranged from 6 to 30 inches and often caused women to suffer broken bones and miscarriage due to falls, to lace up boots in the 1800s that cinched in the ankles, in some cases causing muscle atrophy. I am admittedly guilty- you will often find me taking care of patients in a 3 inch wedge or constricting flats with no arch support. And out of the clinic? I am all girl and love my heels and platforms. But this foot dysfunction and damage is not limited to women’s fashion. Men’s feet also suffer the consequence of ill-fitting shoes. Laced shoes restrict the foot, limiting the arches and toes from their natural movement, also resulting in atrophy and loss of the toes’ natural prehensibility (think prehensile trails). Their shoes are also typically heavier, and more rigid, which also causes damage to the foot and ankle.
These complex structures are not just our base for support, but have also been proven to have a direct link to the rest of our body. Reflexology is the study of the relation of one part of the body to another. Through different body “maps” on the hands and feet, massage and pressure can be applied to trigger points, impacting other parts of the body. An article published in 2015 in the Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine reviewed the most recent evidence supporting reflexology and found that it can help with migraines, low back pain, peripheral neuropathy, and stress reduction.
So how can you take off your feet at home? First of all, lose the shoes! Allows yourself to walk around barefoot for at least 30 minutes a day to help strengthen and stretch those 200 muscles tendons, and ligaments I mentioned earlier. Podiatrists recommend washing your feet daily, and applying moisturizer afterwards. It is also recommended to elevate your feet when resting and avoid crossing your legs. Your feet should be measured every time you buy shoes, which by the way, should be done at the end of the day when your feet are largest. For specific foot problems, please be sure to see your medical provider who will help you decide if you need additional evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist or podiatrist.
Looking to start off on the right foot? Join us for this month’s free yoga offering for Avance patients which focuses on showing our feet a little TLC.