An Ode to Toes

Your toes and feet are pivotal to your whole posture – When left neglected, soft tissue adaptation occurs and the negative effects feed all the way back up the chain to your knees, hips and spine!

Back problems can often be addressed by simply restoring foot alignment and mobility.

If we had an extra 15 minutes in our classes, we’d work on them every week, as the difference it makes to your posture is significant and therefore, back pain can be reduced or even resolved.

Try spending a few minutes each day working with your toes. You can even sit on the sofa whilst you do it!

If you suffer from poor circulation, it’ll warm you up too as you improve the blood flow to the area.

The videos in this blog show 3 simple exercises anyone can do, seated or laying down.

They will help your balance by maintaining your toes as they age, help maintain ankle strength and alignment to keep the knees, hips, and spine in much better shape.

They are great preventative exercises.
They are also great rehabilitation exercises……

7 weeks ago, I broke the distal phalangeal (very end joint) of my left long toe (next to the big toe) – Damn that step that ran into my toe!

It takes 4 – 6 weeks for bone to start remodeling, the full process can take up to another 6 months for the bone to fully harden.

Knowing this will have a big impact on my gait whilst I limp away for the next 4 weeks (and therefore my knees, hips, spine, shoulders etc etc), I set to work as soon as I could to work on maintaining mobility and correct alignment of foot to knee.

Generally, once you’ve broken a bone, range of motion is affected long term, as bone never quite remodels perfectly.

By getting to work once the initial blood vessels and nerve damage had settled, meant that I was increasing blood circulation to help with the healing process and the dispersal of inflammation. Your feet are the furthest from your heart, therefore getting blood down there requires a helping hand!

It takes 4 – 6 weeks for bone to start remodeling, the full process can take up to another 6 months for the bone to fully harden.

It unfortunate that most of us wait until we have an injury until we start paying attention to our feet. If we work on them regularly and are unfortunate enough to have an injury, our recovery time should be much quicker. And to reiterate, regularly working on your feet can reduce or even resolve knee and back pain.

Please note it is important not to work into significant pain – it’s the body’s signal to rest. Continued use of ice will help the inflammation that triggers some of the pain, as it irritates the nerves.

Here are 3 exercises that I have been working on several times per day.
Try factoring them into your day or several times per week.

Picking Cherries : Promotes foot to knee alignment whilst working on toe mobility. Laying on your back or sitting in a sofa with your feet on the coffee table – Point the ankle away from you and grab some cherries (imagery is everything in hard to move body parts) Keep them curled in your toes as you flex your ankle towards you and drop the cherries off. Keep the toes wide as you point back through your ankle to grab a new bunch. Reverse direction after a few.

Working the arches – Promotes toe mobility and strengthening whilst working the arches. Flat arches can be a cause of back pain.
Use a tie if you don’t have a band – spread your toes out wide and curl them under to feed the band under your foot and repeat until you get to the end.

Extending the toes – Promotes strengthening as you lift your arches, whilst working on the joint range in the tips of your toes.
As you can see, this is the most challenging exercise for the range in my toe currently and is a little uncomfortable – little and often without too much force. The aim is to maintain as good a range as possible whilst the amazing healing process continues.

THESE ARE NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE BROKEN THEIR TOES!

Maintaining your foot health will promote good posture, better balance (your toes are essential for balancing), improved mechanics in the knees, hip and spine and therefore better potential for sporting outcomes through improved efficiency.

Happy Footwork everyone!
Look after your feet so they can look after you!

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