Foot Yoga For Happy Feet
By Denise Waller
How many of us bother about foot health, wellbeing and happiness? Alas very few of us. Feet are the poor things that bear our weight, carry us from place to place and help us do everything that needs doing, including providing us a platform to show off our beloved shoe collection, but there is little thought that any of us give to foot health.
The importance of foot care
Our feet are what connect us to the earth; they are the ones that give our body balance and grace. In a sense they are the foundation of our body and as such need to be strong and in good health. Disorders of the feet such as diabetic foot, injuries of the foot, foot ulcers can lead to other disorders, aches and pains as well. It could be that the root cause of knee pain, back pain or even neck pain could be poor foot health!
Before looking at the foot exercises and yoga for the feet, here are tips to help maintain good foot health:
- Wear well fitting shoes that are the right size. Smaller sizes will pinch, cramp and put the feet in unnatural positions. Larger sizes will make the foot slide and chafe within the shoe causing shoe bite and other problems.
- If you wear shoes and socks, change socks regularly.
- Closed shoes mean trapped sweat so you need to take extra care of foot hygiene.
- Give yourself or get yourself a foot massage.
- Look after the skin of the feet by using good quality moisturizer to keep the skin supple, to prevent dry skin and cracked heels.
Estimates say that 9 out of 10 women wear shoes that are the wrong size and that 80% of all foot problems occur in women, a large proportion of the problems being attributable to unsuitable shoes!
Here are some specific yoga poses and exercises that, at the end of the day will feel wonderful to the feet and to you:
Virasana (Veer means hero and asana means seat or position) – This requires you to sit with your legs and feet tucked up and under you, the claves lying under the thighs and the toes pointing and extended outward from under the buttocks. This offers a wonderful stretch to the feet and the entire legs.
Baddha Konasana (or the cobbler pose) requires you to sit with your legs apart and then pulling the feet in towards the inner thighs in a way that the soles of the feet come together to face and touch each other.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – (or downward facing dog) requires you to get the body into an ‘A’ shape with the bottom in the air, the feet placed solidly on the ground and the palms also spread out and planted on the ground.
Viparita Karani – (Viparita means opposite and this is the legs up the wall pose). During the day, walking, sitting for long periods and being sedentary will cause the fluids to pool in the lower part of the body. This can cause swelling and discomfort. To reduce the pain and swelling of tired feet, simply lie down on the ground or any place next to a wall with the arms spread out. Now put the feet and legs up along the wall to help relax the feet and drain the fluid from them. You can vary the pose by putting the soles of the feet flat against the wall and pushing the knees away from the wall to tilt and stretch the pelvis.
Another variation of this can be to have one leg in the air and then sling a towel over the sole of the foot to then gently pull the toes down in the direction of the leg.
Squats – The basic crouching position with the knees up and the heels planted on the floor is beneficial for the feet. Also kneeling with the toes tucked under stretches the foot effectively.
Ankle rotations and other foot stretches – These basic foot stretches can be done by any of us as we sit at our desks during the day. Make a full circle with the toes rotating the ankles. Do this clockwise five times and anticlockwise another five times.
Stretch the foot and point the toes so that the foot is in a straight line with the leg rather than at right at right angles and hold for several seconds before releasing; then repeat 4 more times.
For the third foot stretch you will need to take your shoes off. Curl the foot up so that the toes are pointing towards the ankle for another lovely foot stretch.
Lift the Arches of the feet – Pull the balls of the feet towards the heels creating an arch under the foot while keeping the feet on the ground. Doing this over a period, will help improve the arches of your feet, which we all love to admire in a perfect pair of high heels! Love your feet and they will love you back!
An exclusive by Denise Waller, first published in the Jul-Sep 2012 edition of Shoeholics magazine. All rights reserved