Welcome to our first installment of Movement Mondays, a monthly blurb with some quick tips to help you with alignment, stability, strength and most importantly, movement!
Today we’re working from the bottom up, talking about our foot alignment and how it affects the rest of the body. Imagine wearing a 1 inch heel on one foot and walking barefoot on the other, not only would this affect the way each foot hit the ground and moved but the effect would translate up through the knee, hip, pelvis and low back, giving you that awkward swagger. Just like the height of your foot going up and down can throw your body out of whack, so can the angle of your foot.
Stand up look down at those tootsies, there’s 3 basic position the foot can be in on this plane, toed in (pigeon toed), neutral (toes pointing straight out in front of you) and toed out (duck-footed). What do yours look like?! Most people, myself included, tend to be more duck footed, with standing and walking. When we look up the kinetic chain of the leg, pelvis and back we can see how this external rotation of the foot affects not only our gait pattern, but puts torsion on the knee, shortens and tightens our external hip rotators, pulls our pelvis posterior, and causes rounding of the low back. Who knew your toes could be so influential!
A quick and easy exercise to help restore natural movement pattern and decrease the stress on all these joints is a neutral toe walk. Find an open area with a straight edge you can follow, like the edge of a rug or a yoga mat laid out on the floor and line up the outside edge of your foot along it. Your foot is straight! This may feel awkward at first, maybe even as if your toes are pointing in, that’s ok. Try walking a few steps this way matching your opposite foot to the first one. Your muscles may argue with you a little, but the more you do this the easier it will become.
I happened to be at the beach not too long ago, and noticed another great way to see what your feet are really doing is to look back at your footprints in the sand, so long people watching, hello footprint watching! Here’s what I found…
Look at that toe out! After some conscious correction, beautiful straight toes and feet!
So there you have it, you need to go on vacation, for your health.
*Inspiration for this post came from Katy Bowman’s blog.