As a beginner yogi I used to think that I might not remember the names of my fellow students but I would recognise them from their toes/feet!
As yoga is done barefoot we cannot ignore our feet and the changes which occur was we age.
My feet problem started about 15 years ago. As a keen bushwalker could not wear proper booths, you know the ones with good grip and ankle support. I used wear Rockport walking shoes with very soft orthotics and no orthotics for every day wear. As the years passed by I noticed that I wore my orthotics more and more often. The beginning of the “end of the pretty shoes” came in 2008. Whilst walking the cobble stoned streets of Quebec (Canada) I developed a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. After several months of stretching exercises (asanas), a new pair of orthotics and a few new pairs of shoes later I was pain free again!
Feet are very complex, we have 26 bones in each foot, they need ample space in our shoes to distribute and balance the weight of the body!
Drawing courtesy of posturown.com
Tom from Podiatry First http://www.podiatryfirst.com.au/ was assisting me on my journey from pretty shoes to “realistic” shoes. Tom’s comments on the ageing feet:
- The joints should be moved/exercised to the full range movements, “use it or lose it”;
- Walk whenever you can, walking in the sand is beneficial;
- Feet changes with age, it is mostly hereditary;
- As we age the intrinsic muscles (the little muscles) in the foot get over-powered by the big muscles;
- The fat pad on the bowl of the foot dissolves;
- Foot pain is abnormal; pain can be eased by wearing “realistic” shoes and orthotics. Note pronation is not a disease;
To counteract ageing practice spreading, stretching the toes to create space between them! Stretching the hamstring muscles will keep the knees healthy. If you have injured knees practice stretching the legs whilst laying down (supta padangusthasana).
Foot aliments, if left unattended they alter our body mechanics, our whole posture is affected by foot problems – which gradually will progress to pain in the ankles, knees, hips, back and neck and head.
The combination of walking in wide shoes (weight bearing exercise) and yoga is the supreme way to rehabilitate your feet!