Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 19 March 2012

Happy Feet: How to Put Our Best Foot Forward

When Sarah talks about the "intelligence of our feet," she always gets a few puzzled looks.  How are feet intelligent?  For most of us, feet are just "there."  We pay little or no attention to them until they hurt.  If your feet hurt, everything hurts.  Hobbling around on sore feet makes daily life a chore.

For most of us, our feet keep us stable and mobile.  Feet are the furthest point from the brain and yet they manage to receive and transmit signals which balance the body and move it when necessary.  If you lose the use of your hands, especially when you're young, your feet can become marvellously dexterous, with your toes doing the sensitive work of fingers.

Do we thank our feet for the work they do?  Not likely-instead, we cram them into pointy-toed shoes, neglecting their care until we develop problems.  Then we curse our feet as if "we" had nothing to do with their condition. 

Wheel spinners sit for long hours treadling, so it's wise to pay some attention to those hard-working feet and toes.  Start with a bit of pampering-a basic soak and scrub pedicure if your feet are in good condition, a visit to a foot care specialist if you have problems.  Make a point of doing a few simple foot exercises every day.  The exercises listed here will help balance and strengthen your toes and feet, which may prevent the sore ankles and feet common to spinners. 

The first set of exercises can be done any time you are lying down, on the floor, on the couch, in a chair with your feet up or even in bed.  Move slowly and mindfully, stretching to your capacity.  Think of these poses as "meditation for the sole." (Ouch.)

None of these exercises should cause harm, but as always, it's wise to check with your health practitioner:

  • Stretch your legs out, bringing some energy into your legs and feet.  Spread your toes as widely as you can, so that you can see some space between each toe.  (Do the best you can.  If you can't get space between your toes, think about doing so.)  Hold for a moment, then think of curling each toe individually towards the foot, starting with the big toe.  If you can't work each toe on its own, curl the toes all at once, but work at moving each toe separately.  Hold those scrunched up toes with some tension for a few moments.  Do not hold the pose so tightly that you give yourself cramps.
  • Relax your legs.  Bend and flex your feet.  Point your toes away from your body as fully as you can, then flex them as much as you can towards your body.  Repeat this movement a few times-10 is a good place to start.
  • Raise your heels a bit and rotate your ankles in both directions.  All the movement comes from the ankles, not the feet or the legs.  If you can't do both ankles at once, do each one on its own.  Start with 5 rotations in each direction and work up to 10.
  • Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), lie back and balance yourself with your forearms or lie flat on your back with your legs outstretched.  Bring your right leg over your left leg and place your right heel into the base of the toes of your left foot.  The toes on your right foot are flexed, and the feet are now stacked.  Hold this pose as long as you can before switching foot positions.  This is an excellent pose for stretching the toes, the arches and the soles of your feet, as well as the muscles and tendons up the back of the legs.  You may experience some discomfort when first doing the pose.  Remember: stretching is good.  Pain is not.
This is the "stacked toes" position.  Remember to bring some energy into the feet. My feet are away from the wall here, but if you need support, you can place your bottom foot on the wall. 

Doing these simple poses 10 minutes daily will help relieve and strengthen sore feet. When you develop awareness of your feet, you'll learn to appreciate them and they'll return the favour by keeping you strong, balanced and mobile.

I'm spinning this wool top worsted for a sock yarn.  Your feet deserve pampering!


  1. Great points about taking care of the feet. I'm always being scolded by my therapist for not looking after my feet. I hadn't know about the last excersise so thanks for sharing. Theres also one with a tennis ball that helps circulation, you just run your feet over a tennis ball, great for those that wear high heels or constricting shoes all day.

  2. A tennis ball is a great therapy tool. Running a tennis or racquet ball along (not on) either of your spine against a wall helps the muscles there. Stay away from those high heels or tight shoes as much as possible!