Your feet are the gateway to the rest of your body, which means that the health of your feet are the gateway to the health of your posture. More specifically the health of the muscles and soft tissue in your feet is the gateway to good posture. Here’s why:
This is your foot:
Forget about the names for a second and look at the different muscles. Most run lengthwise down the foot right? And you see each toe has at least 2-3 muscles attached directly to it? Now, put on your favorite pairs of closed toed shoes like sneakers, boots, heels, anything! Move your toes around. Do they move in one big piece or can you move one toe at a time comfortably? They move altogether don’t they? What does that mean for the 2-3 muscles attached to each toe? Maybe those muscles should move your toes… Are they working or not? Imagine wearing a mitten on your hand everyday for a month. Not only would that be unruly frustrating and hot but you would lose dexterity, strength, coordination, and probably, the ability to separate your fingers as you can now. Well, your toes have been shut in a tight mitten most of your life.
If your feet are weak, immobile, inflexible, suffering from poor circulation, then that parallels in your posture: tight low back, tight hamstrings, poor balance, poor coordination, Achilles issues or tendonitis, pronation>flat feet, medial knee issues, weak adductors, the list goes on for days!!
All is not lost.. Below are exercises for awakening the toes, feet, ankles, and (drumroll) overall posture. Follow these very basic foot massage guidelines and tell me how much better you feel! If you want to do a little test, complete one foot then compare to the other… Then do the other foot, of course!
1. Ankle mobility
Holding the arch of your foot, roll your ankle around in its greatest range of motion. Take caution if anything feels sticky by going slow or stretching the tight spots.
2. Heel squeeze
Using the thumb and index finger, squeeze the meatiest part of the heel.
3. Elbow in the arch
Brace yourself because this feels awesome. Sometimes I cry. Use your opposite elbow to massage the arch and ball of the foot. Follow your sensation here and just do what feels great. I recommend pulling the toes back and getting right up in that arch!
4. Monkey toes
Using the opposite hand to foot, wedge your fingers between each toe. If it’s sticky, give it a wiggle. Once the fingers are at the base of the toes, give them a wiggle. This strange sensation is your intrinsic foot muscles waking after a deep and dark slumber.
5. A closer look
Finish up by massaging anything else that feels cold or sticky: twist the toes, pull them apart, stroke the arch with your thumb, all that good stuff. After you’ve done one side, compare your feet! They will have an obvious color change and separation in the toes. What does that mean? Circulation and firing muscles!! One step closer to feeling GREAT!
6. Do the other side
**Information for this post came from a variety of experiences: studying dance, injury prevention, anatomy & physiology and my BodhiYoga training. It’s all based on my preference and practice. I urge you to continue on your search for healthy and happy feet**
Kiera Lucich is a neural integration specialist based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s the owner of Smart Move Wellness, a brain-based wellness company dedicated to educating and training people to heal chronic and trauma-associated pain. For more information visit smartmovewellness.com.