Week 1 of my eight week series "The Healing Power of Yoga" series started off with yoga for the feet.
Did you know that at some point in their lives seven out of 10 people will suffer from foot problems, many of which are entirely preventable?
Paying attention to and correcting the way your feet connect with the earth can correct foot and ankle problems that have repercussions throughout your body. Foot misalignments or weakness can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip and or back pain!
For healthy happy feet, it is important for them to be strong, flexible and well aligned.
For example, pronated feet (feet which roll inward from the ankle down) can cause knee problems and back pain.
The good news is that when you treat foot problems, you can end up treating back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and all kinds of other structural problems.
Distributing your weight evenly across your feet is central to healthy foot and all over body alignment. Generally in yoga, you want to make sure your second toe, shin and knee are all aligned as you start a pose.
Stretching the top of the foot elongates the arch. Kneeling with the toes tucked under is a good way to lengthen the plantar muscles on the sole of the foot, which, when contracted, can become inflamed, leading to plantar fasciitis. See video for demonstration.
Common foot ailments
Plantar fasciitis is associated with tightness not only in the tissue at the sole of the foot but also in the calves and hamstrings and with decreases in the ankle flexibility.
Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common foot ailment. It is a painful inflammation or micro-tearing of the soft tissue or fascia along the arch of the foot. It occurs most frequently to persons between the ages of 40 and 60.
Stretching the calves has been shown to be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. As calf flexibility increases, foot pain often decreases. Thus, many of the stretches yoga offers can be of direct benefit to those with plantar fasciitis, particularly if those stretches are practiced with attention to proper body alignment and mechanics.
Plantar fasciitis results from over stretching and overuse, often with a structural factor, such as very high or very low arches, or the imperfect mechanics.
Flat feet or fallen arches are another common foot condition which can lead to discomfort. Yoga can strengthen the arches of the feet which can help with this condition. Try picking up small objects with your toes, this exercise can ehlp to strengthen and increase flexibility in the feet.
Here is a video that shows a few yoga poses that show how to relieve foot and ankle tension.