A client recently came in that I hadn’t seen in about 6 weeks. I asked her how things were going. “Good. The foot stuff you showed me last time changed my yoga practice.”
I am often told that bringing awareness to the feet improves a variety of things, including:
Hamstring issues (see post last week)
Low back pain
Connection to the abs (pretty sure this goes hand in hand with the above)
The feet are extremely important in letting us know where we are located in space. After my somewhat transforming experience improving toe mobility, learning how to create an arch, and understanding how the intrinsics of the foot work almost 4 years ago, barefoot work became part of my programming. All of my clients spend a little bit of time barefoot each session, so we can focus on how the foot interacts with the ground, the difference between using the foot and using the ankle, and understanding how the foot connects to the core. Bent and Lowrey (2013) found that providing sensory input to the bottom of the foot via pressure caused reflexive activation of muscles in the upper limb, specifically the triceps and posterior deltoid. What this suggests in English is when there is an increase in pressure on the foot, such as with walking, the upper arm muscles reflexively activate, possibly for balance purposes. This indicates a relationship between the foot and arm, and if you are out of touch with your feet, it would stand to reason the coordination that naturally exists between your foot and arm would be altered. If any of your physical activities involve the feet, I highly recommend spending a little bit of time each week paying attention to them and how they interact with the world. You just might find a little more ease in the rest of your body.
*If you like to read research, the article I referenced can be found here: http://jn.physiology.org/content/109/6/1614.long
**People teach entire systems based on training the foot. If you are curious about learning more, check out Emily Splichal and Gary Ward.