In our society we have a HUGE amount of shoes, sandals & sports specific attire (skates,cleats, etc), to choose from. They all are suppose to support & protect our feet. But one GLARING issue that we all seem to overlook is the health of “da feet & toes” that we put into our wide variety of shoes.
As a Personal Trainer & performance specialist, I run across so many weak, misaligned ankles, crooked, smashed toes & in general feet that barely function correctly. We very seldom pay special attention to stretching & strengthening our ankles, toes & the muscles that surround our feet. Over the years, I have helped many clients overcome chronic back, hip, & knee problems by focusing on their feet & having them do some BASIC exercises,to improve & attain greater stability, awareness & resiliency in this vital area of our bodies. Practicing Yoga, Tai Chi, & Qi Gong regularly, we can correct these issues, maintain healthy feet & most likely prevent bigger problems further up our bodies.
I have trained with Gary Gray, of the Gray Institute, who use a comprehensive analysis to assess the feet. I could go into great detail on how to create a specific routine for each persons’s feet, but there are 4 exercise, stretching techniques that we should ALL DO 3-4 X’s week regularly that will bring major benefits for our ankles & feet. This routine should take only 10-15 minutes maximum, but will make the “Da Feet,” smile with renewed energy !!
Individual Toe stretch, spreading & expansion.
From a sitting position, take your left foot & begin with pinky toe. GENTLY pull & twist each toe for 20 seconds. After you finish all five toes, place your pinky finger between the pinky toe & 4th toes. Continue with next finger, until all 4 fingers of the right hand are in between left toes. Gently, move the toes back & forth for 40-60 seconds. Repeat other foot.
Lifting & Strengthening the arches.
From a standing or seated position, push down into the feet, & lift all five toes, spreading them out for 2 seconds. Repeat 8-10 X’s Focus on grounding into the ball mounts & heals of ea. Foot.
Eversion of “Da Feet”.
From a standing position, facing a wall, feet 16-20″ apart, slowly lift the OUTER EDGES of the feet, so you are pressing into the big toe edges. DO NOT COLLAPSE the knees in, but focus on feet, ankles & shins. Do 10-12 reps, building up to 20 reps.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Come into a standing position with the back 3-4 ” away for the wall. Stand TALL, & lift the right foot, placing it into the left inner thigh muscle or inside the shin. Press consciously into that area and also contract ALL the muscles of the left leg. Stabilize the spine & bring the arms up & out to the sides, like branches of a Tree! Hold for 5-8 breaths- repeat on the other leg. You may gently lean into the wall at first to gain confidence.
Practice these exercises/techniques 3-4X’s a week & you will feel the energy & resiliency come back to a neglected area of your body!