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Healthy Feet are Happy Feet

If you’re reading this post today, you most likely are of the mindset that taking care of your heart and muscles and joints is important to your overall well being. But let me ask you a question.  How well are you caring for your feet?  As we get older, the likelihood of developing a foot condition increases.  In fact, 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 has foot pain, stiffness or aching feet.  However, taking a little time each day to care for your feet will make a massive difference in the long run.  

The foot and ankle complex is complex.  There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 ligaments, muscles, and tendons, in one foot alone.  Two of the most important functions of the feet and ankles are to keep the body balanced and to ensure that stress is distributed correctly not only through these structures but also throughout the musculoskeletal system.  If function of the foot and ankle complex is compromised, other parts of the body have to compensate.

The main deviation in the foot that causes pain, injury, and movement dysfunction is overpronation.  Overpronation occurs when the foot collapses or rolls too far inward for normal function, leading the heel and ankle to fall inward, causing the arch to flatten.  Take a second now to answer a couple of questions.  Do you ever experience pain in your feet or ankles?  Do your feet face forward or does one (or both) face out?  Check out your big toes now.  Does one or both have a bunion or point toward your other toes and away from the midline of your bod?  And one more question, when you’re doing a squat or forward lunge, do your knees tend to fall inward?  

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then most likely you’re an overpronator.  Now’s the time to begin addressing the issues and get your feet back on track.  It may be that you’ve been putting off having a medical evaluation for fear of the dreaded surgery but as a child of a father who is dealing with lots of foot issues at this point in his life, I suggest now rather than later.  Or you may have evaluated your foot complex and decided that  they look pretty good.  Either way, I’m sure that your feet have been feeling left out, in terms of your wellness program, and are ready to get the ball rolling…literally.  :)

How can you help yourself?  Massage!  Self-myofascial release techniques can rejuvenate and restore soft tissues that have been adversely affected by musculoskeletal imbalances.  The Golf Ball Roll can be very effective in releasing the plantar fascia and muscles of the foot.  Place a golf ball on the underside of the foot and roll it back and forth until you feel sore or tender spots.  Pause on each sore spot and apply pressure to help each sore spot release.  Roll for 30 seconds to one minute on each foot daily.  Place a golf ball by your bed or on the couch to remind yourself to roll.  If the golf ball is too painful, try using a tennis ball.

Another great way to release tender and tight feet is to massage them using your hands and some lotion. Twist them, get into the arch, bend your toes forward and back, spread the toes and foot, squeeze your heel, get your knuckles in there and don’t be shy.  Move the massage into your achilles and then up into your calf.  Spending a few minutes on each foot before going to bed at night will not only relax you but will also be just what the doctor ordered to get those overused feet back on track.  

Stretch and strengthen?  Yup, that’s next.  To stretch your toes, stand barefoot with one foot forward and toes pushed up against a wall.  Keep the ball of the foot and the base of the toes in contact with the floor. Slowly roll the foot and ankle forward and inward. Bend the knee and ankle forward toward the wall to stretch the underside of the foot.  Don’t forget to stretch your calves too!  Do this by standing with your feet in a staggered stance (one foot forward and one foot back).  Place your hands on a wall and then gently lean forward, keeping both heels in contact with the ground.  You can progress this stretch with one of my faves, down dog.  

Here are 2 exercises you can use to strengthen your foot and ankle complex.  First, stand with your feet facing forward, align the toes so that they are straight (feet on skis).  Push the big toe down toward the floor without scrunching the other toes.  Perform this exercise isometrically at first, then add movement by gently rocking forward and backward, using the big toe as a braking mechanism to control the body weight as it moves over the foot.  You can progress this exercise by adding in heel raises, always making sure that ankles are directly over the heel and not falling in or out.  

That’s it and there you have it.  Short and sweet, not so much, I know.  But feet are important and they are the parts of your body that propel you in life.  Let’s not leave them out any longer!  Give them the love they deserve.  

SoulShine Schedule - please sign up for your classes now and remember to sign up for PiYo through Mindbody.  :)

Monday:  HIIT @ The Little Theater - 8:15-9:15 am

Tuesday:  HIIT Yoga Fusion @ The Little Theater - 8:15-9:15 am

Thursday:  PiYo @ The Athletic Club - 12-1 pm

Friday:  HIIT @ The Little Theater - 8:15-9:15 am

Healthy feet are happy feet,

Jode xo


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