Foot Fitness Workshop — Ahhhhh!
Posted by terrepruitt on April 11, 2015
This week my friend and Nia student, Dr. Tanya Baldwin, invited me to her Foot Fitness Workshop she was holding today. I shy away from stuff that has me working on my feet. I tend to think I have to “save” my feet for my classes. But, it occurred to me that thinking like that might be backwards. I started thinking it would be a good idea to see what type of exercises and care I could do for my feet. I think that Nia and yoga are great ways to exercise the feet. Since both are done barefoot they allow for an individual to practice using the feet the way there were designed to be used. Nia is done barefoot so that we can bend and flex and move our feet to help them with strength and balance. But this workshop was solely (ha, ha, ha!) for the feet. It was an amazing workshop. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone with feet.
It was very informative and FASCINATING. First it wasn’t so surprising that each of us had different issues with our feet. So along that same line it wasn’t surprising that the different exercises presented different challenges for each of us. What was surprises was how somewhat tiring it was. Some of the exercises were as much BRAIN exercises as foot/muscles exercises. Somewhat like what some of the things we do in Nia are – brain stuff! With a couple of them the movement we were supposed to do with our foot was opposite of what we normally do. For example pointing and flexing the foot. Now when you point your toes you “point” your foot. And when you flex your foot, your toes flex, too. In one exercise we were pointing our toes then flexing our foot yet keeping our toes pointed. It was hilarious. Because at first the foot just doesn’t do it . . . but then it will, but you have to really think about it. Or for some, even HOLD your toes in the point.
There were other exercises that really require thought. Which is always great because that means that you are changing up patterns – both movement patterns and brain patterns. So it is a win-win.
We started out with a self-assessment so we could see where we were at the start then sense how we felt at the end. This included holding a pen (or not) and writing (or not) with our toes. Then we did eleven “manual releases” without any props. So just using our hands and the floor. Some of these were not enjoyable for me. My foot that I injured a few years back is very “stuck”. So it did not enjoy some of the movements we did.
Then we had a soft spiky ball that lit up. YUP! That was really part of the fun. Dr. Baldwin mentioned that at first she didn’t care for the lighting up part, but then she realized it could serve as a tool to help you see if you are putting enough pressure on the ball. With this spiky ball, after another self-assessment, we rolled our foot over it and performed an exercise or two.
Then, our next set of exercises was with a towel. YUP, a towel, a hand towel. So this was great because maybe you don’t want to purchase a soft spiky ball, but most people have hand towels. We did a variety of grabbing and moving the towels with our toes. This portion included some other exercises (doming, inchworm, tapping, and strumming toes) without the towel.
Then we used a Theraband. We did several exercises and stretches with the band. This is the section where we did the pointed toes and flexed foot. This section is the one that had me thinking a lot. It was as if I had to keep my body from doing what it normally did. It had to “forget” all that it has in its muscle memory. The best tip from this section was when using the band to stretch the feet include the toes in the band. I guess I think of the bands as stretching legs so I put the band over the arch of my foot. Well, if the band is over the foot AND the toes, the toes can get involved in the stretching. Ha! Brilliant!
Then there was a section titled “Toe Corrector”. Um . . . I don’t think my toes enjoyed being “corrected”. We used a rubber band around our big toes and did various movements including walking, which was funny to me because — let’s just say I could use more practice walking.
The next section was Reflexology which sounds really nice, but it was the one that had us groaning the most. This was done with a smaller than usual tennis ball. We stood and rolled the ball under the various portions of our feet. It is like that stretch or massage you know is good for you, but kinda doesn’t FEEL like it is good for you at the moment.
Then there was one last quick thing to help feet. Kneeling with your toes curled. By this time my right foot was tired so it didn’t care for the desired pose, where you are sitting on your heels. But I was ok with the modifications where you take the weight off the toes by stretching forward and leaning on your arms.
This was a great workshop. My feet are actually feeling pretty good. Although I have to teach almost every day next week so I think I will soak them tonight just to help them recover further.
Easy(ish) things to do to help the feet. Do you pamper your feet? Do you specifically exercise your feet?