Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional! I am sharing my own experiences only. All bodies are different, so be sure to consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
Earlier this week I shared a kind of crazy story with y'all... the fact that I have had MUCH less foot pain lately, and apparently have gone up a shoe size, all since starting to improve my posture and alignment. Today I'm sharing Part 1 of my favorite 7 tips and tricks -- some from the book Whole Body Barefoot, which started me on this journey, and some from other fantastic resources I've found along the way.
However, this is not supposed to take the place of you doing your own reading! As I said in my original review, I highly recommend reading Whole Body Barefoot if you are the owner of a pair of feet... but especially if you consistently have foot or back pain, if you are interested in improving your posture and alignment in general, or if you're just curious to better understanding the way the "biomechanics" of your body work.
7 Beginner's Tips for Better Posture and Foot / Body Alignment - Part 1:
1. Stretch your feet and legs every day, multiple times a day.
I purchased this inexpensive half dome foam roller thingy, that I've set in front of the sink in my bathroom. I stretch my calves each morning and evening while I brush my teeth, put my contacts in, etc. I also try to remember to pause and stretch my calves when I'm out walking my dogs, using the side of a hill or a curb to press my heels down further than I could on level ground.
2. Stretch your toes.
If you are already stretching your toes on a regular basis, good on you! I sure wasn't. You can achieve a mild stretch your toes by holding your foot in your hand (probably better do this one after a shower... ;P) and interlacing your fingers between your toes. If you want a stronger stretch, or want your hands free while you stretch, you can buy toe-socks (not the cutesy kind -- this kind) or a gel toe separator. You can buy a fancy one called YogaToes for $30, or a cheap-o version for $3, or a mid-line version for about $12. I bought the mid-version based on reviews, and it works fine. In fact, it works better than fine -- while there's one obvious way you're supposed to wear it, you can squish the segments of the separator together to wear it different ways and change up your stretch. Lately I've been wearing it so that I can wedge the two largest segments between my pinkie toe and the next toe over, and I can really feel a nice stretch in those tiny (but oh-so-important) toe muscles.
3. Walk on varied terrain as much as possible.
While walking is always amazing exercise, try not to always be walking on paved surfaces. Go hiking, or walk in the grass next to the pavement even. Walk (carefully) on the side of a hill in a wide circle, so that your ankles have to fully stretch to stay in contact with the ground. The more you can move your ankle joint in 3-dimensional ways, the more healthy and flexible that joint (/ muscles / ligaments) will be.
4. When standing still, work on standing with your feet parallel and even. Test yourself -- without looking down, put your feet "together" at hip width. Now check... are your feet actually together, with heels and toes even, or is one foot forward? Are your toes pointing out? You want to work on standing with your feet together, parallel with the toes forward, and your weight centered over your heels.
I say "work on it" because it definitely didn't come easy to me -- when standing still I tend to lean on something, stand with my weight on one foot and the other "posed" out at an angle, etc. This is hard on your joints, and tends to make the muscles on one half of your body tighter than the others, so start training yourself to actually stand UP when you're standing still.
Okay, that's a good start for now! I have revealed the exciting weirdness of my shape-shifting feet, and shared four of the top tips I think have helped me along in my alignment journey thus far. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the list in a few days! (Update - you can find that here!) And let me know if you have any questions -- I'm still learning myself, but I'll try to point you in the right direction if I can.
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