Foot exercises?!? The feet might not be the first place we think about for our health and mobility but they play an incredibly important role in how we feel physically and mentally. Healthy feet are the foundation for a healthy body.
Often we don’t even notice our feet unless something is going wrong and they are causing us problems, or pain. But our little feet are incredibly complex with 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, and they play a vital role in keeping us moving. For this reason foot exercises, and awareness and connection to our feet is so important. With strong foundations at our feet we set ourselves up to move through life with more ease and less pain.
How connected are we to our feet when we walk, throughout the day, or in our yoga practice? There are some easy foot exercises we can do every morning that help us to stay connected to our feet, and build strength and mobility from the ground up.
What are the benefits of connecting to our feet and doing foot exercises?
Release Fascia around the Foot
Understanding fascia and connective tissue means we understand that everything is connected. We can’t break things down into individual parts or we miss the whole picture. Connecting to the feet and working with the fascia in the foot can release tension elsewhere and ease the way we walk, improve our balance and also reduce pain.
Reduce Physical Pain in Knee, Neck or Back
Believe it or not, restrictions in your foot mobility can lead to problems higher up in knees, hips and back. As the fascia and connective tissue runs from the soles of your feet up through your legs, lower back, neck and head, by releasing a tight plantar fascia (fascia in the feet) you can relieve symptoms elsewhere in the body.
Feet are the Foundations
We quite literally can stand upright, balance and walk because of the flexibility and adaptability in our feet! Our feet have a tripod structure, the heel, the cushion of the big toe, and cushion of the little toe. These little tripods are pretty amazing and enable us to stand and move.
It all starts with the foundations – Finding stability and strength in our feet is essential for stability and strength through the whole body. These exercises can even be yoga for flat feet or yoga for fallen arches – really helping to reconnect and root through all sides of the tripod base of our miraculous feet.
Impacts and Improves Organ Health
There are points on the feet connected to every muscle and organ. By stimulating different reflexology points and sensory nerves on the feet you can connect to every muscle, nerve, organ and gland of the body. This can release tension, stagnation, pain, and emotions. Our feet are intricately connected through the brain and nerve receptors, to the entire body. Meaning connection to the feet can have a major impact on our overall well being.
4 Daily Foot Exercises
Here are four easy foot exercises that take only 5-10 minutes and can be done every morning. When practised regularly these simple foot exercises can really improve our foot health. Practice these exercises and a few more in Adam Hocke’s ‘Daily Feet Practice’.
Massage the feet, circle the ankles, mobilise the toes and stretch the foot and ankle. These are simple ways to practice ‘foot yoga’! This can be yoga for flat feet, yoga for fallen arches, or even yoga for bunions – all of these are symptoms of an overall misalignment and tension. When yoga is practiced with mindfulness on the feet it can be a tool to help improve your alignment and ease tension.
1. Pressure Points and Rolling with a Massage Ball
Stand straight with the ball under one foot. Move your weight on top of the ball and breathe. Find a point on the foot where you can place sustained pressure. Stay for a couple of breaths.
Then use the ball and roll side to side along the width of foot. Then roll length ways along the big toe arch and the small toe arch.
Make circles around the ball of the foot whilst keeping the heel down, and finally make circles around the heel of the foot.
2. Ankle Circles
Put the weight on one leg (use a wall or chair to help you if you need support) and lift the other foot. Make small circles and movement with your ankle in both directions. This wakes up and starts to mobilise the foot and ankle.
3. Mobilise the Toes
Keep both feet down and just lift all ten toes up. Then lower the toes back down and repeat 3-5 times.
Isolate the movement of the big toes and just lift the big toes. Then follow with the other eight toes. Switch a few times between big toes and all other toes.
Then try to lift all toes up and roll them down from outside in (baby toe first).
Finally lift all toes up and roll from inside out (big toe first)
4. Stretch Top of the Foot and Ankle
From standing, lay down the top of the toes of one foot and try to flatten the foot towards the floor. Push the top of the foot down and imagine you can drag the foot forwards along the ground.
No need to work too hard as a little effort goes a long way here.
Repeat on the other foot!
Finally when you are done lay down on your back with shins crossed and holding onto the feet. Take a minute with your eyes closed and give your feet the love and attention they deserve.
Send some gratitude to your feet, give them a squeeze and a little rub to say thank you for all they do for you every moment of every day!
Discover More about the Feet
- Read more about ‘How to use your Feet in Yoga’ to get tips on how to stay connected to your feet throughout your Yoga classes.
- Practice more in Adam Hocke’s ‘Daily Feet Practice’
- Join Jean Hall on Sunday 24th September for a workshop to ‘Find Your Feet: The Roots of Support’
Written by Joanna Gilbert – Joanna originally trained in Frog Lotus Vinyasa Flow with Vidya Heisel in 2015 and since then has been discovering new ways to connect to her body. Joanna is passionate about combining mindful-movement, with play, and self exploration.
When not playing she can be found working behind the scenes with MFML as the chief Happiness Maven!