Foot pain can put a damper on running, walking, dancing and exercise in general. I’ve noticed a rash of both repetitive use injuries with hands and foot complaints in the past few years. Why so many injuries these days? Is it because of our sedentary and focused lifestyles with computers? More and more clients ask recommendations for footwear for bunions, plantar fasciitis, neuromas, and other foot discomfort.
I have some basic suggestions for people when it comes to feet. (I’ll get to hands, later.)
1. Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight. Cramped toes can compress the nerves and create balance issues.
2. Spend time out of shoes– ideally barefoot everyday on the earth. It’s highly stimulating to your brain and body for balance and grounding to your nervous system. Even if you have a condition where wearing shoes helps prevent inflammation, a little time barefoot on the earth can be healing.
3. Wiggle your toes– this wakes up the brain, helps circulation to your entire leg, and will help with balance. Also, another great activity for circulation is to elevate your legs over your head and wiggle your toes or shake your legs.
4. If you have had bad sprains where ligament damage results in weakness in support, I recommend an arch support, like “Superfeet.” Try a neutral arch support first before going into a custom orthotic. Custom orthotics may be necessary, but see what kinds of results you can get before getting a custom footbed. Once you have a custom orthotic, it is difficult to take it away since your body will adapt to a new “artificial floor” that supports and maintains the movement pattern that often got you into the pain with your foot. So orthotics can be greatly helpful and often pain-relieving, but also may “hold” our posture and movement patterns.
5. ”Five-fingered” socks, sandals and shoes can be helpful to begin to move the toes more and open the spaces between the toes, but take it slowly. Start with thirty minutes (or less if necessary) and gradually work up to wearing them for longer periods. Beware of overdoing.
6. “Barefoot” style shoes with minimal sole cushions can be good, but be sure you are paying attention to walking appropriately to the shoe. You cannot have a strong heel strike wearing a barefoot shoe without bruising your heel. These kind of minimalist shoes require a very different gait.
7. Tennis ball roll*. (*Only if you do not have inflammation in your arch– this can make an inflamed tendon much worse. You can also use a foam roller, round wooden dowel or rolling pin -for the sado-masochistic crowd, or soup can). Gently roll a tennis ball under your arch. Can you can sense the bones of your foot? Breathe and relax as you do this in sitting or standing.
8. The “Stand with tennis ball under the heel trick”. Your other leg helps with balance. Put your hands on the wall also for additional stability. Put your weight gently on the tennis ball using your heel, bring your other leg to help so you come onto the ball this other foot. Extend through the heel to the top of your head (you can place one hand on the very top of your head). Keep growing taller and sense the heel and connection to the top of your head. Do for only a minute or two and rest. Walk around. Repeat with the other foot. This is a powerful lesson to bring your weight over your heel– like a plumb line. Often plantar fasciatis pain can be alleviated with this trick, a very simple Feldenkrais lesson.
To be continued…
©Annie Thoe, GCFP; www.sensingvitality.com 2012 – words on Feldenkrais, Healing & Nature
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