So Mr. P and I are doing quite a bit of dancing recently, and the body is complaining. The feet, in particular, are complaining.
Any idea how many joints there are in the foot? It's something crazy, like twenty-plus joints, in each foot. Of course each of those joints is crossed by ligaments and tendons, all those connective tissues are attached to muscles, many of the muscles are attached to other muscles, plus there are sheets of fascia on the sole of the foot and the outside of the thigh that might just possibly get tight and pull things out of whack and ... it's no wonder a person's feet hurt occasionally, is all I'm saying.
AND just in case all of that is not enough, all of those muscles are innervated! Nerves get tight, too.
Mr. P has applied some of his professional skills on my howlin' dogs, and I'm not going to get into specifics, because everyone's feet are different, but just as a general recommendation, here is a foot flexibility practice that anyone can do and that everyone should do if they want to maintain optimal ranges of motion and the best possible body mechanics.
- Stretch the top of the foot - by grasping the toes in the opposite hand and bending the toes toward the sole of the foot. Try to do this without cranking the ankle to either side - keep the foot in line with the shin - but go ahead and bring the whole foot down if you can.
- Stretch the bottom of the foot - by grasping the toes in the same-side hand and gently pulling them up toward the body. Go ahead and bring the whole foot up if you can.
- Flex the foot diagonally - by holding the sides of the foot in both hands and applying a gentle twist - inside of the foot toward you while the outside is bent away, then reverse. Start at the toes and work toward the heel.
- Rotate the foot on the ankle
- Point the toes as far down as you can
- Flex the toes toward you as far as you can
- Dig into the sole of the foot with your thumbs, massaging all of the soft tissue from toes to heel, starting in the center and working out to the edges and up onto the top surface, running a thumb between the metatarsals to look for hot spots - give those a gentle rub with the side of a finger - and finishing by gently pulling on each toe.
Do this every morning and every night if you've got habitual foot pain, balance problems, knee pain, if your joints crack a lot, or if you just think it sounds mighty relaxing. At the very least, do once a day.
Perfect to do while you catch up with "Holmes on Homes," or your entertainment of choice. It takes about five minutes. Feel better?