Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians (and normal people)

Shoes: Part 4, or On Feet and Their Relative Happiness

So now, I've bullied you into realizing that your current shoe choices may not be the best for long term health.  Fret not!  Small changes can have great effects.  Let me start off by saying that there are TONS of great PT and general foot exercises out there.  Here are just a few of my favorites for now, but I'm sure I'll add more.

1. Sitting seiza vs. sitting kiza.  This rock-star dude is demonstrating these two positions.  The top position is with the toes tucked, ankles together, or kiza.  It is a position in many different movement traditions, including some martial arts and bodu.  It's also intense and stretches out the myofascial tissue in the sole of your foot.  Sitting seiza is with the tops of the feet down, stretching out the tops of the ankles.  This can be really intense, and to deal with it, I give students a rolled up blanket under the tops of their feet.


2.  Stretch out those adductors (to prevent bunions).  The adductors of your toes get incredibly tight from those tiny toe boxes.  I like to wear these toe-spreaders every day, but you can also rock these socks if it's too cold to go barefoot in your home.  Neither is very expensive.  General toe socks won't really stretch your adductors in the same way that these two do, but they can be a reminder that you have more adduction range in that area than you realize.  You can also manually interdigitate, which Susan McLaughlin explains in good detail on her excellent blog.

3.  Roll it out!  Grab a Yoga Tune Up® Ball, a Pinky Ball, a lacrosse ball (a bit more intense) or a tennis ball, and start to roll out the bottom of your foot.  Try it free form-roll along the inner arch, the outer arch, sideways, front back, let the ball sink into the ball of the foot and get the idea.  Here's a YTU® video to start.

4.  Make an outline of your feet on paper, like you did when you were a kid.  Then take that map and compare it to your shoes...notice which shoes don't give you space for your toes/width/bunions/etc. 

5.  Try grabbing things with your feet (just for fun and dexterity.)  When I teach kids yoga, I give each kid a batch of marbles that they then have to carry with their feet/toes to a jar.  It's definitely insightful and fun.

6.  Try toe taps (not the pilates move).  Try to lift up both of your big toes and none of the other toes.  Then try to lift just your "pointer" toe...and then your middle toe...and then you realize it's not really possible.  You can manually lift up and hold down those toes in alternation just to bring some awareness to that area.

These are just a few ideas to start-more to come!

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