There I was running like I was in the Olympics for a bus, I took one step off the curb and blllluuuuggge I went down. Oncoming traffic was barreling towards me and two guys snatched me by by shoulders to pull me out the way. I had stepped off the curb not onto my heel but toes first on my right foot and the top of my foot made contact with the pavement and it so elegantly rolled itself to the left and I went limp.
Yogi’s know all to well how a foot, toe and ankle injury can have you running to your mat to surrender in legs up the wall pose. I was no where near yoga during that injury, but oh am I ever ready in the event of.
Our feet are often under appreciated. We are so hard on them yet they do a ton of work for us through our day, the average person takes 10,000 steps a day and a recent survey listed achy feet and ankle sprains as two of the top five foot complaints. Coming into yoga I had that horrid sprain, my ankle would beat like a drum sometimes and it was very inflexible.
I found myself discouraged from single leg poses even before trying them cause I just knew I was injured for life…not so. Over time as I strengthened my foot muscles and increased range of motion in my ankle I found not only the strength to support single leg poses but also new openness and strength for toe stands.
In my classes I am constantly cueing foundations, its not only that we are standing on our feet but we seem to forget that those little piggies help us balance all through our day.
We think about getting into and out of poses from our core but we really do begin our poses with our foundation and for standing poses that means our beautiful feet. So what are “yoga toes” besides this awesome shirt we found by yogi @flexx_inkyjaja (follow her page she’s amazing) its an awareness of your feet and the spreading of your toes to broaden the foundation of your feet.
Coming into yoga I had that horrid sprain, my ankle would beat like a drum sometimes and it was very inflexible.
If you have been to a yoga class you may have heard a whispering voice cue you to “ground down into the four corners of your feet” or a hammered howl to “root down and lift your arches”. These cues help students get into the foundation of the pose to to assist in proper alignment or to help students find more balance in single leg postures as well.
I often practice spreading my toes because before I was into yoga the only awareness I had of my feet was to make sure they didn’t look jacked up in sandals and contemplating off season polish colors. Now I take time to make sure not only that my feet are properly placed in poses but also strengthening toes, feet and finding flexibility in my ankles after a heinous injury.
To strengthen your toe muscles and increase flexibility come to a standing position with soft knees and lift your toes on your right foot don’t go past your arches and with your cute toes lifted spread them wide about 4-5 times and release your toes to the floor or your mat. Do the other foot as well and repeat this exercise maybe 3 times. I also love to do toe crunches. Basically I take my fingers beneath my toes and try to push my fingers away and resist a little.
My feet are still a work in progress but at the least that ankle is so much better and I’ve been working on ankle stands so seem like all is well. Take care of those feet y’all!