Alignment from the Ground Up

This blog was first posted on Holy Yoga Global®, LLC:
https://holyyoga.net/2019/03/28/healthy-foot-awareness-alignment-from-the-ground-up/

In honor of April being Healthy Foot Awareness month, I want to bring you a post dedicated to our amazing feet.  However, for many of us our feet don’t feel like amazing structures. Some sources estimate that over 75% of Americans will experience foot problems in their lifetime.  Eight percent of the population will suffer back pain due to problems that started in their feet as well.

Lets take a look at why our feet are so amazing and how we can use our feet affectively to help them feel amazing too!

FUN FOOT FACTS:

  • 52 bones in your feet make up one quarter of all the bones in your body.
  • The average person takes 8,000-10,000 steps a day, which adds up to 115,00 miles in a lifetime – more than 4 times the circumference of the globe.
  • By age 12 a child’s foot is about 90% of its adult length.
  • The American Podiatry Medical Association suggest buying shoes in the afternoon, as your feet tend to swell during the day.  Your feet can be 5% to 10% larger at the end of the day than they are at the beginning.
  • Toenails grow faster in hot weather (strange and cool).
  • The skin on your feet is 20 times thicker than on any other part of your body.
  • The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and sensory nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of the body.

HOW TO ALIGNMENT THE FEET:

1. Stand with your pelvis back over your heels, which will transfer the weight of your body onto your heel (calcaneus) instead of having your weight directly over your arches and small bones of your feet. 

2. Turn the foot forward.  Instead of looking at the space or direction of the toes, we are going to look at different aspects of the feet to bring them into alignment.  For many people the toes do not face forward but are angled – often due to bunions or other toe deformities.

• Draw a straight line from the head of your 5th metatarsal (pinkie toe) straight back toward the heel.  This line may or may not touch the heel or ankle. Don’t worry about that right now.

• Draw a straight line straight down from the lateral malleolus (outside of the heel) toward the ground.

• Where the line from your 5th metatarsal and lateral malleolus intersect is where the outside edge of your calcaneus (heel) should be placed.

• When you follow these alignment points it will bring your feet into the correct anatomical position that supports the health of your feet and the health of your whole body.

• This new alignment may feel very strange.  Work into it slowly, standing this way for several minutes a day and then building on it each day.

• Lastly, when aligning one area of your body often draws out dysfunction (misalignment) in another area. So, don’t be surprised if you find this happening with your new foot stance.

Bringing your feet into the alignment described above will help support many common foot problems people experience such as bunions, plantar fasciitis, and low arches of the feet.

Transition to Minimal Footwear

How do you transition to minimal footwear?

  1. Evaluate the state of your feet now? Do you normally wear shoes with a 1-inch heel? 2 inches?
  2. Next find one pair of shoes you would like to replace and purchase the new shoe with a ½ inch smaller heel.
  3. Allow your body/feet adequate time to embrace these new shoes and heel height.
  4. Then purchase another pair of shoes with an even smaller heel. Repeat until all your shoes are those with minimal to no heels.

The biggest mistake people make when transitioning to minimal shoes is going from regularly wearing 1½ to 2-inch heels for over five years and then dropping to a shoe with no heel. Our bodies need time to transition, especially the muscles of our legs. Heels create shortened muscles in the legs, so when you go to no heels, these muscles will now require lengthening. Depending on how long you have been wearing heels, these muscles may not have been lengthened in years or decades.

As you drop your heels, the alignment of your body will start to shift. Your pelvis will come into a more neutral position, which will help with the alignment of your spine, organs, and overall health and functionality of your body.

Learn more about strengthening your feet and healing foot issues in the following videos: