Our feet are what make it possible for us to move through the world and ground us firmly to the earth. They are critical in our efforts to avoid injury and yet are often overlooked in our wellness routines. Our feet say a lot about the general condition of our bodies: they show signs of alignment troubles; they tell stories of years of poor shoe choices; indicate circulation issues and vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and much more. With so much riding on them (literally and figuratively), it is surprising that we don’t pay closer attention to them. In fact, I could make a strong argument that they are the most critical point of the body.
Pilates devotes a great deal of time to strengthening the foot and improving the range of motion of its joints. And a good Pilates teacher is vigilant about the position of the foot—and with good reason. A poorly aligned foot sends a wave of misalignment up the chain into the knee, hip and lower back.
Joseph Pilates, a stickler for countless details and aspects of the human body, created devices specifically for the feet.
The foot corrector (shown here) is still commonly found in Pilates studios, including Bloom. It is a simple tool that can shed light on a number of alignment issues and address weaknesses in the foot. With it, we learn to press evenly through the foot (especially across all five toes) while maintaining the integrity of the knee’s and hip’s alignment. It can also help release tension in the fascia—the thick connective tissue lining the bottom of the foot that can cause excruciating pain when overworked.
A new study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and featured in the New York Times Wellness blog, concluded that a standard plantar fasciitis stretching regimen was more effective than pharmaceutical interventions. At Bloom, we wouldn’t conclude that remedies such as ibuprofen have no place in treating plantar fasciitis—every body is different, after all—but we do think it is good reinforcement that focusing on movement for the foot is beneficial and therapeutic.
In classical Pilates on the Reformer, every session begins with Footwork Series, a series of spring-loaded movements that awaken the body and send energy up the front and back of the leg, inner-thigh and into the pelvic floor and core. Sequentially distributed pressure across the toes, arches, and heels, provides a progression of deepening range of motion that warms and stretches the tendons ground us mentally and physically for the intense work that is to come.
Lifting and propelling our bodies evenly and with great care for alignment from the feet may seem easy but it most oftentimes is not since most of us are not in touch with our alignment. Learning to be attentive to the 33 joints and nearly 100 tendons that make up the foot takes practice and guidance.
Are you ready to put a new foot forward? Call us at 503-962-0263 or email us today.
HuffingtonPost.com: 7 Habits that wreck your feet
Pilates.About.com: Exercise for the foot: towel curl
SportInjuryClinic.net: Strengthening exercises for the feet
Abc.com: Art of aging taking care for feet