“Left foot, left foot, left foot, right. Feet in the morning, feet at night.” Recognize this famous children’s book? I was reading Dr. Seuss’s Foot Book to my son the other night before bed. It reminded me of how important our feet are to movement and how often we neglect them and their supportive musculature. Our foot is designed to be and is the foundation to all human movement.
Our feet are also extremely important for balance. Your foot is the first part of your body that contacts the ground in walking, running, skipping, jumping etc. and absorbs all the shock from the impact of the body. Shouldn’t this part of your body and supporting musculature be in top shape? Also, in functional training, a strong stable foot is again the foundation for all movement. Think about a squat, lunge, balance lunge and dead lift to name a few. If your base of support, your foot, is unstable due to tightness or weakness, that affects the entire body and throws off your alignment. Looking at our footwork in Pilates, whether it is performed on the reformer, chair or standing, if your feet are weak and lack the proper support, then your lower extremities are likely to be out of alignment. So what can we do for our feet? Other than the periodic pedicure, our feet need and deserve some TLC.
For starters, go barefoot as often as you can. Your feet have many nerve endings and trigger points that give you feedback about your environment. When your feet are supported by a shoe they rely more on that support as opposed to the foots own structural support. When you do wear shoes try to find a supportive shoe that’s comfortable and try to limit the amount of time your feet spend in high heels and flip flops. Another key ingredient to happy feet is stretching and rolling the supporting musculature. I know I’m guilty of spending a lot of time stretching and rolling my hamstrings, quads and glutes and only save the last few minutes for a quick calve stretch. Thinking about what I just mentioned shouldn’t your lower extremities be where you should spend a little more time? Take the time to properly roll out and stretch the muscles on both the anterior and posterior sides of your lower leg. Even roll the bottom of your foot. Trust me your feet will thank you!