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Hello, friends! And welcome to Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode we’ll be talking about feet, and we’ll be doing a motion that will help you to find more ease and comfort in your toes, feet, and ankles. So let’s get into it.
I’d like to bring to your attention an episode that I did early on—Episode 7, called Alignment and Soft Power. When our body is in alignment, we are telling our nervous system Everything’s OK. We’re safe, and in that way, we can have a real awareness of life being easy for us. This is what we call Soft Power or Calm Confidence, and it’s our natural state. Unfortunately, the design of shoes, especially for women, have a little bit of a heel or a lot of a heel, and this puts our body out of alignment. Walking on very tall heels actually sends a signal that there’s something wrong—our nervous system thinks there’s a problem, and it can cause a lot of stress in the body and the mind. Even shoes that only have a small lift can do the same thing, so I would recommend, and I do recommend, that you try some shoes that are called “zero drop”. What that means is that your heel is not lifted above the toes. In that way, we have a nice balanced surface to rest our body on and to carry ourselves around. There are many companies that make these kind of shoes just look for the words “zero drop”. Another issue that is very common in our shoes is that the area of the foot where the toe box fits needs to have flexibility and space. If that toe box is too narrow, our toes will pull together, and this often results in what we call bunions. Bunions are not a genetic deficiency or a hereditary problem, they’re simply keeping our toes too squeezed together, so that there’s not enough space between them. We’re designed to use our feet as paws, not hooves, and by having a nice wide toe box, we get a lot of flexibility through all of the toes and some space between them as well. There are many kinds of shoes that are designed now called “barefoot”, and this allows for you to really feel the floor or the ground through the shoes. There’s a little bit of support so you’re not feeling like you’re stepping on rocks, and the space in the toe box is nice and wide so that you have lots of room to spread your toes out as you’re standing and walking, or even running. Ideally we can think of the foot as having three points of contact. We can call this the “tripod” of the foot. And this information comes from the Feldenkrais Method, which is what we use in this podcast quite often when we’re doing motions. We’ll be doing some movement of the toes today that come through that lineage of Feldenkrais by using small motions that are gentle and easy and slow. And the purpose of these motions is to allow for more ease in the flexibility of the toes, and of the foot itself, and the ankle. I’d also like to bring to mind a previous episode—Episode 62, which was called Primary Water. And in that episode we do a motion called Finding your Feet. That one is a great one to start with that allows you to feel your feet, and really allows you to have an awareness of where your toes are and your arches, and the ball of your foot, and your heel. When we’re looking for this tripod, this is how we find it. One of the points of the three is your heel. Another point is the ball of the large toe. And the third point is the ball of the fourth toe, so not the pinky toe, not the smallest one, but the one right next to that. On the top of your foot, if you follow that fourth toe up your foot, towards your ankle, you’ll find that there’s a place where it attaches. That joint, if you press on the top of your foot, you’ll feel on the underside of your foot where it makes contact. That’s the third point of the tripod. So when you’re standing, just keep those points in mind, and see if you can find a place where you can balance between those 3. That’s an ideal foot position when standing, and this will allow for great alignment, and you’ll feel ease and comfort through your nervous system. Another episode I’d like to bring to mind is a recent one—Episode 80 on Grounding or Earthing. And in that I mentioned that shoes now are made with a plastic sole, commonly, and this prevents the electrical energy from the earth from passing into your body. So another thing that you may want to search for are shoes that allow you to feel grounded. These would either be shoes that have a leather sole, or there are shoes that are made with a copper metal disc that’s attached to the bottom of the shoe, which allows for that electrical connection to take place. So that’s another option as well. When we are grounded and when we are in alignment, our nervous system is very happy and tells us everything’s OK, and our body finds its optimal well-being.
Let’s go ahead and start Discovering Your Feet. Begin by standing and just noticing. Noticing your toes, the balls of your feet, your arches, and your heels. Hopefully you’re barefoot, because that way you’ll get the maximum sensory information. Just noticing where they are right now and how much contact you can feel them making. You may notice that there’s a difference between your right and your left foot, and that’s OK. We’re just noticing right now. There’s no agenda to fix anything. And now please come to sitting, and bring one of your feet across the knee of the other leg, so that you have access to the toes. And we’re going to begin by moving each toe two times, forward and back, passing through neutral. And what you’re going to do is with one hand, you can rest your hand on your foot so that you’re kind of holding it there. The other hand is going to move the toes.
So we’ll begin with the large toe. And with your index finger and thumb you can kind of grab it, pinch it gently, and pull the large toe towards your ankle, so kind of flexing that toe. And we don’t need to go super far. This is not about how far can you go. We’re trying to stay in the range of comfort, so we don’t need to go all the way to stretch or pain. We’re just doing this gently towards your ankle, and then bring it back to neutral. And then we’ll bend it the other way away from you and back to neutral. And then we’ll repeat that—bringing your large toe towards your ankle and back to neutral, and then away from you and back to neutral.
And then move to the next toe moving that toe again gently—not too far—just within your comfort, and back to neutral. And then we’ll bend it away from ourselves and back to neutral. And then repeat that. Comes towards you and back to neutral, and away from you and back to neutral,
And then we’ll move down to the next toe—the middle toe so to speak. And we’ll bring that toe towards ourselves, back to neutral, and away and back to neutral. And repeat that same toe towards you, back to neutral, and away from you and back to neutral.
And move down to the 4th toe. And move that toe towards you, flexing in other words, back to neutral, and away from you, back to neutral. Repeating. Towards you, and to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral.
And then we’ll move down to the last toe—the baby toe. the pinky toe—and we will move that toe towards us, flexing it, and back to neutral, and then away from us. Again, this is kind of like pointing that toe. And back to neutral. And repeat. Towards you, and neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral. And now you’re going to take all of your toes in your hand, and move all the toes together into a flexed position—towards the ankle—and then back to neutral, and a pointed position, and back to neutral. And repeat that again. All the toes together, and back to neutral, and then away from you and back to neutral. And now we’ll take the whole foot in your hand and move it from the ankle into a flexed position. Again, we’re not trying to go as far as possible—just shy of stretching—and then back to neutral. And then point the foot away from you, from the ankle, and back to neutral, and repeat that one more time, flexing the whole foot from the ankle, and to neutral, and then point the foot, or move the foot away from you, and back to neutral.
And release your foot from your hand. Bring your foot back down to the floor. And go ahead and come to standing again, and now notice how that foot feels compared to the other one. What kind of contact are you making? What parts are touching the floor? Maybe they weren’t before. Maybe you feel more of the floor. And notice the floor against your feet as well. In noticing the differences between the two feet, you will be letting your body know that something is different, something has changed. And it will pay attention to those changes.
Now let’s go ahead and come back to sitting, and this time bring the other foot into position, so that we can work with the toes and the ankle. And we’ll start with the large toe, again, moving it towards you, back to neutral, away from you, and back to neutral. And repeat that—towards you, back to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral.
Then we’ll go to the next toe. And we’ll move it towards ourselves, and to neutral, and away and back to neutral, and repeat that. Towards you, and to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral.
Then we’ll go to the third toe. Move it towards you and back to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral, and repeat that. Towards you, and to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral.
Then we’ll go to the 4th toe. Bringing that toe towards you, back to neutral, away from you, back to neutral, and repeat. Towards you, and to neutral, and away from you, back to neutral.
Now we’ll go to the smallest toe—the pinky toe. And we’ll move that towards you, back to neutral, away from you, back to neutral, and repeat. Towards you, back to neutral, and away from you, and back to neutral.
And now we’ll take all the toes together and move them towards our ankle, and back to neutral, and away from us, back to neutral. So this is kind of like flexing and pointing the toes. One more time. All the toes together, flex gently, back to neutral, and then point, and back to neutral.
Now we’ll take the whole foot and move it from the ankle, towards us, back to neutral, and away from us back to neutral. Repeat that, gentle flex, and neutral, and then gentle point, and back to neutral. And then go ahead and release the foot from the hand and put your foot down on the floor.
Come to standing and now notice your feet. And you are going to notice your toes, probably more than you did before. You may notice the balls of the feet. You may notice the position of that tripod is a little bit more clear, and we are increasing our awareness of our feet and our toes, because this is what we’re balancing on when we stand and walk. And it’s very helpful for us to be able to really give our full weight of our feet to the floor. All the toes with lots of space between them and ease and flexibility as we go through our day moving. Thank you for joining in on that one.
We have one more motion, and this one’s a little tricky, but I trust that you’re going to do just fine. With your feet on the floor and your sitting position, I’d like you to try, with the right foot, to lift just the large toe, and then slowly release that back down to the floor. If this is a challenge for you to isolate that toe, you can use your fingers to hold down the smaller toes as you lift the large toe. So you can try that again, holding down the small toes, and just the large toe of the right foot lifted up off the floor, and then slowly back down to the floor. And this does get easier with practice, so you may find that you don’t need to use your hand to hold down those toes after a while of trying. Now the same foot. the right foot, this time we’re going to leave the large toe down and lift all the small toes. And this may be easier or harder for you. If you’re having some challenge lifting the smaller toes only, you can again hold that large toe down with one of your fingers while you lift the small toes, and then slowly release them back down to the floor.
Now let’s go on to the left foot, and we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to lift that large toe, keeping the small toes down, and then slowly release it back down to the floor. Again, you can use your hand to help you by holding down the small toes as you lift just the large toe. And then we will repeat that, lifting the large toe, back down to the floor, slowly, and now we’ll switch to the smaller toes. So we’re going to keep that large toe down as we lift all the small toes up off the floor, and then release slowly back down to the floor, and repeat. Keeping the large toe down, lifting just the small toes, and then slowly release them back down to the floor. And then you can come to standing once more, and check out your feet. And just see how much awareness you have increased in them—how they feel. You may notice some warmth. You may notice some tingling. You may notice there’s more awareness of your toes in general, and that’s a good thing. The reason why it’s a good thing is when we have body awareness, when we’re aware of our body in space and where we are in space, and how much connection we have to the ground, and so forth, this process is called interoception. And we’ve talked about interoception before. It’s our perceived sensory awareness. As we increase our ability to perceive within, that is sending messages through our fascial network to our brain and nervous system that we are here—we exist—and this is an important part of optimal well-being. If our body knows we’re aware of it, it will do all the things that it’s supposed to do. Without that awareness, things will slow down, and functions will decrease, blood flow and lymph flow and energy flow can be disrupted. So awareness is really the key to all of this business of health.
I did want to mention one more thing, which is orthotics and arch supports. Ideally we don’t need them. If we put an arch support in our shoe ,or orthotics in our shoe, we are not allowing our feet to really feel the floor. We’re not allowing the musculature and the fascia of the feet of the arches and the toes and so forth, to really go through their normal range of motion. When we put an orthotic in there or an arch support, we are not allowing for full freedom of movement. So if you can, before you go ahead and buy those expensive orthotics, see if doing some of these motions regularly will help you find more ease and comfort in your feet, and in your standing, and your walking. I’d also recommend, as often as you can, to take your shoes off, so that you have your feet free. Take your socks off too. And we did talk about standing on the earth in Episode 80—Grounding. This is important to get the electrical energy into your body. So the more you’re barefoot the more opportunity you have to get that energy in. It’s also great for your feet and your toes your ankles your arches your heels—all of those parts—to have more movement and more energy flow in them.
So today we talked about the feet. We talked about how important they are to our alignment. When we have a heel lift, that is sending a signal that there’s a problem. So keeping the feet in shoes that have zero drop and no arch support is ideal. The barefoot type shoes are great, and the motions that we did today are excellent for coordination, flexibility, increased awareness, and therefore optimal well-being of the feet. They’re a pretty important part of our body. They keep us balanced, and they help us move through space, so it’s important for us to give them some attention and be gentle when you do this, please. It’s important to not have any pain or stretch when you’re doing these type of motions. It’s also important to keep them slow. Thank you for joining in today, and please send yourself some appreciation for doing so. This has been Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy. ☺️