Sunday, 9 April 2017

Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability

The foot is made up of 26 bones (tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges) and associated ligaments and tendons which give the foot a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility allows your foot to adapt to walking on all different surfaces.

Unfortunately we usually cramp our feet in shoes most of the day.  This is why it is important to take steps to restore this flexibilty, preferably daily with a few exercises or massage. Also try the following for flexible feet.

Foot exercise with tennis ball-stand or sit with a tennis ball under your right foot.  Roll the tennis ball around for a few minutes then repeat with the left foot.

Screaming toe pose (flexibility in the sole of the foot)- come to kneeling and tuck your toes under.  If your feet are not very flexible this may be enough for now otherwise lower your bottom down to your heels.  The sensation should be intense but not painful - if it is come out of the pose.



Hero pose (flexibility at the top of the foot) - start in kneeling with your knees together and heels apart so that there is space for you to sit back between your heels.  Your feet should be in line with your shins.  Sit back between your heels.  If this is too much for your knees, elevate your hips by placing one or two blocks between your heels (short edge of the block towards your knees).  Top the blocks with a blanket if you need to.  Do not let your props force your knees apart.  Your ankles  should be tucked in close your hips and your weight evenly distributed over your sit bones.  If your ankles bother you in the pose, a rolled up towel placed under your feet can help.  Rest your hands on your thighs. To come out of the pose come to all fours, stretch your right leg back, pressing away through the heel then repeat with the left foot to restore circulation to your legs.


There is more to your foot than flexibility however - your feet are your foundation. They support your legs, hip girdle, spine and shoulder girdle.  Any misalignment here will transfer up - for instance if you have flat feet, this may result in lower back issues.  To work on lifting your instep, stand in samashti (equal standing with feet hip distance) and lift your toes.  If you can lift your middle three toes and press down with the big toes and little toes, even better.  

The feet have three arches - the medial longitudinal arch which runs from big toe to just in front of the heel, the lateral longitudinal arch which runs from the little toe to just in front of the heel and the transverse arch which runs across the foot just below the ball of the foot. Together they form a triangle which is very stable.  Add to this the ankle joint and you have a pyramid which is an even more stable piece of 'engineering'.  In standing poses plugging down just in front of the heel, base of the big toe and base of the little toe can give you a great deal of stability.  Try it in 



Warrior 1 - stand towards the back of the mat with your hands on your hips and your feet at hip distance.  Turn the toes of your left foot out as if to the 10 to position on a clock and step forward with your right foot.  Inhale take the arms up, exhale bend the front knee. Gaze is straight ahead or if your neck allows up at the hands. Press down with half your weight in front of the back heel, and half distributed equally between the base of the big toe and little toe. To come out of the pose, exhale take your hands to your hips, inhale step your feet together. Repeat second side.

Please also see:-

You might also like the 'Foot yoga' video on my You Tube Channel. 

Namaste,


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