The structure of one human foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments, and an astounding 250,000 sweat glands. This illustrates just how complex the structure of our foot is. For this reason, it’s important to recognize that our feet need love, too. If regular attention and care is not given to our feet, it can lead to dysfunctional movement patterns. It is through the feet that connects us to the earth. The bottom of our feet are always receiving feedback from the ground. If there is a barrier between this connection, it can affect the health of the body as a whole. This is also evident in the practice of foot reflexology, represented in the image below.
Most times, our feet get neglected by being in a pair of shoes, usually for at least 8 hours a day. This can be very disruptive to the structure of our feet. Shoes can bring on muscular foot imbalances that can cause pain, joint compression, decrease blood circulation and nerve sensitivities. All of these symptoms, can contribute to common foot disorders like plantar fasciitis, flat feet, bunions, and athlete’s foot. Our feet are one of the strongest and most sensitive parts of our body.
Watch the video to see a demonstration of a sample foot care routine.
Here are 4 practical tips to start your own foot self care routine.
1. Treat Yourself to a Foot Bath
Foot baths, or foot soaks, have been around for centuries. Adding Epsom salt to warm water promotes healing in the body. Once it’s dissolved and absorbed through the skin, toxins are exchanged with the magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salt. This process reduces inflammation, improves muscle function and increases the amount of energy production in the body. In addition, it can reduce stress and relieve pain.
Steps for soaking feet:
- 1. Fill a bucket with warm water.
- 2. Add half a cup of epsom salt
- 3. Soak your feet for 20-30 min., 3-4 times per week
- 4. Moisturize your feet with Jojoba oil.
- 5. Stay hydrated!
Epsom salt baths can bring on dryness of the skin and dehydrate your body. Remember to moisturize your feet and drink plenty of water to prevent cracked skin or irritation. Visit a doctor if you begin to experience pain, redness or sores.
2. Give Yourself a Foot Massage
It is believed that the body and spirit are connected at the soles of our feet. Ancient healing traditions of China, India and Egypt recognize the feet as the mirror for our overall wellbeing. There are about 7,000 nerve endings in one foot. Gently applying pressure to certain areas in the foot will promote deep relaxation and encourages the body’s natural ability to heal. This will release tension in the foot and replenish the area with new cells and tissues.
When performing massage with my hands, I use jojoba oil. Otherwise, I apply pressure to trigger points using a number of tools like a Rubz ball, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or theracane. The foot works closely with the muscles of the lower leg so I release the calf and shin muscles also. This can be done with a tool called a tiger tail. Each tool can provide a different kind of surface and pressure.
When I massage my feet I focus on these areas:
- -lateral arch
- -transverse arch
- -medial arch
Self foot massages can be practiced daily.
3. Stretch and Exercise Your Feet
Stretching and strengthening the muscles of and around your feet can be an effective way of restoring the foot back to balance. Gaining proper awareness and control of these muscles can be extremely beneficial to your whole body. I like to tell my clients, “you’re only as balanced as your feet!” This cue is a friendly reminder that our feet need our love and attention, too.
Try these simple stretch and strengthening exercises for your feet:
- -Standing Calf Stretch: Hold for 1 min.
- -Standing Shin Stretch: Hold for 1 min.
- -Towel Lifts: Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then release. 3 sets.
- -Toes Spread: Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then release. 3 sets.
- -Calf Raise: 15-20 reps, 3 sets.
4. Ditch Your Shoes, Move Barefoot
Shoes and other forms of poor footwear with built in arch support, extra cushion and narrow toe boxes change the structure of our feet. This causes them to become stiff and weak. To restore the structure of your feet, ditch your shoes and walk barefoot. This option is not comfortable in most places we visit however, the more time that you spend without shoes on, the better for your feet.
Once you’ve gained more comfort without shoes, try walking on natural terrain like:
Ultimately, it is the environment our feet move on that will determine their structure and shape.
Following these 4 tips will dramatically improve the function and health of your feet and body. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with someone who will also appreciate it. Comment in the section below your thoughts and experiences regarding self foot care.
Special thanks to the contributors to this blog for their inspiring articles and graphics relating to this subject: https://www.healthline.com/, http://www.thefootcollective.com/, https://www.instagram.com/govindkamat/, http://www.everydayhealth.com, The Trigger Point Book by Clair and Amber Davies, Elemental Reflexology Institute Ohio.