By Yamuna Zake, creator of the YAMUNA® Body Rolling fitness and therapy system, the YAMUNA® Body Logic hands-on therapy, and YAMUNA® Foot Fitness
The most important part of the body to train when developing a sound fitness program is your feet. Sadly to say, most fitness programs do not include exercises to strengthen, align, and tone the feet. Taking the time to build your healthy foot foundation for all else you want to do to get in good shape is a very wise place to begin. The feet do not come with instructions, and I highly recommend that you take the time to learn about how to develop healthy foot function. Our feet are our foundation. Almost everything we do, including physical exercise, requires the use of them.
When I see people for knee, ankle, or hip problems, and I ask them to take off their shoes and walk for me, immediately I see the problems begin from the lack of using their feet correctly. If the feet break down, all the exercises you are doing for the rest of your body will eventually cause injuries. So stop ignoring your feet and begin to train them. Why wait for them to break down to have to fix them?
What I find most when I speak to clients about the importance of training the feet and developing proper function is that they “get it” immediately. It makes sense to them, and yet no one before has ever mentioned their feet to them. The feet are almost entirely ignored when creating a workout to get fit. I explain that building a strong foundation in your feet will make everything else you do more effective and prevent any future breakdowns and rebuild the ones you have already developed.
Here is a test to see your present foot function. This will help you create awareness of what you need to begin working on.
Test Your Foot Function
- Can you stand comfortably with both feet straight out in front of you so neither foot turns out to the side to the slightest degree?
- Is there an arch in each foot when you stand?
- As you stand, do you feel that your heels, the balls of the feet, and your toes are each bearing an equal amount of your weight?
- Can you feel the outside edge of your feet, so that this edge presses firmly into the floor?
- When you walk can you place your heel down, then walk through the entire outside edge of your foot, then transfer your weight from the outer ball of foot and little toe across to place each toe down separately reaching the big toe? Or does your weight shift directly from heel to big toe?
- Or, do you just put your whole foot down at once, like a single block when you take a step?
- Can you lift your heels all the way up to stand on the balls of the feet and toes, then slowly lower the heels back down?
- Can you raise all your toes off the ground and then place each toe down separately, starting either at the little toe or the big toe?
- Can you pick up a pencil from the floor with your toes?
Developing a foot fitness program has many more benefits for your entire body than just improving your feet. Here is a list of benefits to get you to start thinking even more about adding a foot fitness program to your workout.
Benefits of Foot Fitness
- Working the feet stimulates, tones, and elongates all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the legs.
- Enables people to develop more range of motion, not only in the feet, but up through the pelvis and torso, including the spine
- Creates greater tone and real relaxation of the tension that builds up due to the feet being constricted in shoes over many years. When the feet relax, the whole body begins to relax and work more efficiently.
- Increases circulation throughout the entire body.
- Stimulates bones, improving bone quality.
- Stimulates organ function through all the reflex points in the feet.
- Improves alignment throughout the body.
- Boosts metabolism (another place to work for weight reduction).
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Increases body awareness
You might also like:
Yamuna Zake is a visionary, master teacher, and healer who has devoted her life to understanding how the body works and helping others creative positive change in their bodies. A world-renowned authority, she is creator of the YAMUNA® Body Rolling fitness and therapy system, the YAMUNA® Body Logic hands-on therapy, and YAMUNA® Foot Fitness.
Black-and-white image courtesy of Yamuna