Most of us go through life without giving our feet much thought, maybe we even find them slightly gross. However for a good posture it is vital to notice what our feet are up to.
I am going to start by telling you about my favourite fact about the body. The short version is that the more you use a bodypart, the more sensitive the nerve endings in that bodypart becomes.
For example, we all have a dominant hand, and you have probably tried writing with the other one, only to get frustrated. You can see in front of you what you want your hand to do, but for some reason does the letters come out looking like a 5 year olds.
The nerves in your less dominant hand are not as sensitive meaning that your brain does not send the right signals to correct any wrong movements, as it’s not aware of them happening.
So back to the beginning and our feet, most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our feet. Which leads to it being hard for us to pick up the signals our feet sends us, even when we do start thinking about it. It takes time and practice for our brain to start picking up all those small signals it’s been ignoring for so long.
This makes it hard to break bad habits regarding our posture as it can be hard to feel what is actually going on. The way around this is to start using your feet and the muscles in them a lot more and let the connections slowly increase.
A few ways to increase the awareness in your feet:
- Walk around barefoot as often as you can, preferably without socks
- Walk on uneven ground
- Wiggle and stretch through your toes whenever you are sitting or even standing still
- Mindfully rotating your ankles
- Start walking meditation (read more here)
The reason for explaining this is that I don’t want you to feel discouraged if you have trouble feeling when your feet are balanced. It gets easier with time.
To activate our whole feet when we stand we use imaginary points in our feet, called the four corners. The point is to press evenly in to these corners and therefor activating the whole foot symmetrically. This will improve our balance and our posture in whole.
Once we get a feeling for the four corners, it is not that complicated to incorporate them into poses where we stand upright, such as Mountain pose, or even Tree pose. The tricky bit is to remember these corners in all standing postures, preferably both on and off the mat.
Standing in warrior two for example it is important to press evenly into both our feet. We often forget about our back foot and tend to collapse in to the inside edge of it. This puts pressure on our knee and hip, as well as stresses the muscles and ligaments on the whole inside of our thigh (first picture)
If we instead gently press down to the outside edge of the back foot as well (second picture), we activate the inner arch of the foot making it stronger and more stable (bridges are a great example on how arches are stronger than flat surfaces).