Can you feel your heart pulsing in your chest? How about in your fingertips? What happens when you notice your heart beat in your feet…?
Consciously directing our attention on a point of intentional focus is essential to growing our intuition and expanding our sensory prowess. Likewise, reversing the polarity of our head-centric culture by placing “our brain in our feet” generates a cornucopia of whole body healing possibilities! Reimagine new contexts for your feet and build an inner architecture for your consciousness that reliably allows you to presence yourself and feel good in your body.
What Story Do Your Feet Tell?
When you consider feet, what associations arise? Clean/dirty, tired/happy, ugly/beautiful and everything in-between, informs how we approach our clients’ feet and treat our own. The grandmother of Western Reflexology, Eunice Ingham declared in her seminal publication, “Stories of the Feet”, all of our feet have stories to tell.
Genius visionary, inventor, and early anatomical wonderer Leonardo Da Vinci once said “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”. Indeed, Renaissance era architecture—flying buttresses allowing for impossibly high domed cathedrals—extolled the functionality and beauty exemplified by the feet. Daily we traverse the earth with three primary foot arches, flying buttresses in support of our human architecture. In harmony and resonance with earth and sky, gravity and ground reaction force, we walk, massage, dance, run, jump, and stand. In fact, we wouldn’t have modern “arch”itecture were it not for arches.
Healing Moves for Foot Fitness
Ida Rolf once said that you either engage with gravity or you are compressed by it. In an effort to engage with gravity we have put together a series of healing moves for the feet that rehab or prehab injuries, sustain a harmonious engagement with gravity and promote multidimensionality of movement. In general, when rehabbing any area, we recommend moving in the following 4-step progression of intensity:
You can read more and/or watch a guided Foot Fitness video
Level 1: Low or no-load. Range of motion within the natural movement possibilities of the joint (no forcing or hyperextending)
A common “call for motion” re-patterning popularized in the Structural Integration tradition, this simple and potent first aid healing move for knee, ankle and foot pain activates and coordinates the muscles of the lower extremity to recalibrate synergistic movement among these structures.
>In a standing position, place one foot in front of the other as if you are about to take a step forward.
>Balance most of your bodyweight onto your front foot
> Begin to peel the back foot off the ground, slowly moving as though you are taking a step forward.
>Pause your movement at the toe tips just before your foot leaves the ground. Keep your middle toe in line with your heel as you roll from heel to toe tips. You may feel a gentle stretch in your toes.
> Now roll the back foot down. While keeping the vast majority of body weight in the front foot, repeat this gentle rocking forward and backward several times or until you feel an awakening in the back foot and lower limb and shift in sensation.
Level 2: ROM, coordination and flexibility.
Another oldie, but goodie from the re-patterning coaching of SI, this healing move may be performed while sitting with your legs stretched out in from of you.
>Begin in plantar flexion, with feet and toes pointed away from you. Inhale and lift only your toes. Then lift your entire foot into dorsi flexion.
> Exhale press the ball of your foot away from you, but keep all the toes lifted. Then point your toes all the way down into plantar flexion.
Repeat several times. This is a gentle way to bathe the foot and ankle in synovial fluid while letting go of asymmetrical compensations, allowing nervous system to relearn proper synergistic movement between toes, foot, ankle and lowers crus.
Level 3: Strengthening
This Healing Move generates strength and foot dexterity, while reinforcing strength and flexibility of the foot arches. When the muscles and nerves in our feet are communicating and coordinating smoothly, we create more stability around our ankles, knees, hips, and greater support for our lower back.
>Sit or stand. Place a towel or blanket on the floor flat and use your toes to crumple and gather the fabric into as small of a ball as possible. Then unwrap the the crumpled ball back to the original flattened position. Repeat several times daily for best results.
Level 4: Stretching and strengthening
Kneeling Tucked Toes
>Begin in a kneeling position with your hands on the floor in front of you supporting your body weight.
>While kneeling, curl and tuck all your toes under your feet, and if it feels safe for your knees, begin to lift up into a kneeling position so your hips come directly above your heels.
>Please keep your hands on the floor in front of you for support until you are able to to rest our hands on your knees (this is a Level 3 modification). This may take some time and may not be for everybody. Please be patient and kind with yourself as you slowly open into your plantar fascia. Sustain the stretch for 30 seconds and work up to 3-5 minutes to help rebuild your arches and heal foot projects like plantar fasciitis, hammer toes, pronation.
Practicing your favorite healing moves for 5 minutes daily will often provide better results than practicing for an hour every other day. Committing to a little self care and TLC for your feet every day generates a strong foundation, a launchpad for a healthy spine and a clear mind from the ground up. And by regularly directing loving attention to all our parts, we build and fortify a conscious architecture of inner reliance, trust, and sure-footedness in our body and mind. If you’re still breathing, the story of your feet is not complete. How will you author the next chapter of your healing journey of a thousand steps?