Stand on your own (two) feet
This phrase means to become self reliant or independent if someone says that to us. True enough, our feet support us in nearly all our upright activities in life, from walking, to running and even sitting.
The feet are one of the most used parts of our body but we rarely pay any attention to them until we experience pain, which then impedes our ability to stand and walk easily. This in turn affects our mobility and quite often, our independence.
The structure of our foot
There are 26 bones in the foot but a lot of us tend to think of our foot as one solid block. This is mainly due to the fact that in the Western world, we wear shoes nearly all the time. Think about it – there are 206 bones in our body so the bones in our feet constitute a quarter of our bony input!
The shoes we wear
The structure of some shoes, designed to give ‘support’, can make the actual foot lazy and we begin to lose the foot’s natural ability to sense and provide its own support.
Many people in the Western have lost the ability to move the bones of the feet as they are designed to be moved. For example, lack of differentiation of movement in the ankle joint and feet can lead to poor balance which could in turn lead to knee and hip or even shoulder and neck pain.
Fortunately, these days, it is possible to get shoes which allow your feet much more freedom to move around. This helps re-establish your feet’s intelligence to support you instead of ‘blindfolding’ them by encasing them into a lump.
The foot as a sensing mechanism
Anthropologists have visited tribes who still live the hunter gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors. They don’t have shoes to wear and hunt and forage through the jungle in their bare feet.
As an experiment with one tribe, the anthropologists put shoes on them to see if this would improve their ability to walk through the uneven and scratchy surfaces of the jungle. The tribes people could not understand why anyone would want to do that. When the shoes were put on them, they felt that they had been blind folded as they could no longer use their feet to sense their way in their environment. They became clumsy and awkward in their movements and their sense of balance became much compromised.
There also have been studies conducted in Scandinavian countries where children take their muddy boots off before they enter the school building during the winter. The reports showed increased concentration and productivity in the classroom during those periods.
The foot is a sensory organ and by shutting it off, you may also shut off other functions which may not be so obvious.
Feet and Ageing
Balance can become more precarious as we get older. This may lead to fear of falling and some loss of independence.
The causes of lack of balance in the elderly are many, but one of the contributing factors is the loss of flexibility and sensation in the feet. The ability of the feet to soften and sense the ground relays information to the nervous system. This then enable the body to make micro adjustments all over our organisation which is so important for balancing. Look at a cat walk and you will immediately notice the sense of softness, yet suppleness and strength as their connection to the ground infuse their whole system.
Rediscover the vitality in your feet!
Come and rediscover your feet and ankles in this month’s workshop. We will explore and rediscover the vital connections between our feet and the floor and ultimately our relationship with gravity. This will benefit everyone, and in particular runners, hikers or anyone who spends time on their feet.
To find out how the Feldenkrais Method® can help you, click here.
For weekly classes in South East London, click here.
For individual lessons in Essex and South East London, click here.
And for monthly workshops in Essex, click here.