Monday, May 13, 2013

Feet don't fail me now!

Lots of people that I know have been complaining about problems with their feet lately.  Whether you are a yogi or not it's important to know about this structure that holds you upright all day long.  This is your foundation.  If there's something going on with the feet it will throw you off balance in other areas.  The feet are affected by the weight we carry and the way we carry our weight.

Start to pay more attention to the way you walk (or as we in the massage world call it, your gait).  Is your heel striking the floor first or the ball of your foot?  Look at the bottom of your shoes and see where you have more wear in them.  Are you walking on the inner (medial) sides of your feet or more lateral?  Are you standing equally on your two feet?  Are you distributing your weight evenly as you walk?

Here's some good info on fee from one guy who is an amazing illustrator and another who is an awesome doctor.

From Bandha Yoga:

The Longitudinal Arches of the Feet in Yoga
In most fitness and athletic pursuits, the feet are important due to their weight-bearing function (except in swimming and martial arts, where the feet are used to kick). Yoga practice places more importance on the role of the feet. For example, the soles are thought to be a location of minor chakras. Additionally, precision movement of the feet affects parts of the body that are far removed. For this reason, it is important to understand their anatomy and biomechanics.

In this Scientific Key we study the structure of the longitudinal arches of the feet.

First let's look at the anatomy:
1. The bony arches
lateral, medial, arches of the foot
On the outside of the foot, the talus, calcaneus (heel), cuboid, and lateral metatarsal bones form the lateral longitudinal arch. This is the shallower arch and is the main weight-bearing surface of the foot. Flattening and deepening of the lateral arch occurs through movement between the cuboid and the fourth and fifth metatarsal bones.

On the inside of the foot, the talus, calcaneus, navicular, cuneiform, and medial metatarsal bones form the medial longitudinal arch. This is the deeper arch. Flattening and deepening of this arch occurs through movement between the talus and the navicular bones.
2. The ligamentous arch
plantar fascia, foot arch

The plantar fascia is a fibrous ligament-like structure that runs from the calcaneus to the bases of the toes. Lifting (extending) the toes tightens the plantar fascia and deepens the arches.
3. The muscular dynamizers
tibialis posterior, peroneus longus and brevis

The muscles that dynamize the arches are divided into the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot. The intrinsic muscles originate from and insert onto bones within the foot. The extrinsic muscles originate from the lower leg and insert onto the bones of the foot. In this Key we study the peroneus longus and brevis and the tibialis posterior—three of the extrinsic foot muscles. Contracting the peroneus longus and brevis muscles tilts the foot outward (eversion). Engaging the tibialis posterior muscles tilts the foot inward (inversion). All three muscles can be used to strengthen and deepen the longitudinal arch of the foot.

Now, let's look at these structures in yoga postures.
1. Extending the toes in Padmasana deepens and strengthens the arches.Extending the toes in Padmasana deepens and strengthens the arches
2. Contracting these muscles lifts the arches in Urdhva Dhanurasana.Contracting these muscles lifts the arch in Urdhva Danurasana
The arches can be worked and strengthened in many other poses (especially the standing asanas). Gain awareness of these important structures by gently inverting and everting the feet and flexing and extending the toes in various poses. Always practice carefully and gradually build awareness as you apply your knowledge of anatomy to your practice.

Ray and Chris

For more information on Yoga and anatomy check out the Bandha Yoga site

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