Building and maintaining good posture starts with the health and stability of your feet. Your feet need to feel good so the rest of you can also feel good, enabling you to stand up straight and take on the world! Your feet play an important role as strong, supple, and well-balanced feet and ankles are the foundation for proper upright posture. They’re also the basis for strong legs and hips, a stable backbone, and a spacious ribcage in which to breathe freely – one of the main reasons yoga is best practiced in bare feet.
Shoes are protective and provide a consistent surface on which to walk, but feet themselves are confined and don’t have much work to do during the walking. They certainly don’t experience anything interesting inside those dark soles. Developing stronger feet requires resistance from a variety of surfaces, such as slight variations in ground cover. Feet and ankles strengthen when they have to stabilize you on slightly shifting ground such as when walking in sand and surf or over earthy, mounded tufts of grass or bumpy gravel.
So, slip out of those shoes for a little free-foot exploration and wiggle your toes! If you’re indoors, place your bare feet on the floor and enjoy the texture of a plush indoor rug, cool tile, or polished wood floor. Or, take a trek outside onto some soft, green grass and let the earth mold into your arches. Spread your toes, then scrunch them to experience the soft stems tickling your soles.
Can’t take your shoes off where you are? You can strengthen your feet and clear your mind at the same time by exploring the confines of your shoes. First, scrunch your toes into the little dips where your toes spend all day making a seat for themselves. Then lift and spread your toes off the soles so your big toenails nearly touch the roof of your shoes. Next, you can tilt your ankles inward to lift off the outer edges of your feet. Now try riding the outer edges of your feet to lift your inner ankles. Rest for a moment with flat feet. Then lift and lower your heels, applying equal pressure into the balls of your feet. Finally, ride onto your heels and do a few taps of your feet at the same time.
Whether you’re indoors or outside, waiting for an appointment or spending time in nature, you can improve the health and enjoyment of your feet by exploring their sensory and textural world wherever you happen to be.
Kristen Lee Fewel is a freelance writer with a passion for healthy living and positive energy. She is a Reiki Master, yoga teacher, and the owner of Full Circle Yoga & Healing Arts