Though we may not pay much attention to them, our feet do a lot for us. They connect us to the ground, they support us throughout our day, and they withstand the pressure of our body weight along with the added momentum from moving us forward.
Often neglected, these hard-working body parts are vulnerable to pain and immobility throughout adulthood. In fact, seventy-five percent of Americans will experience foot health problems at some point in their lives. Our feet also act as barometer for health, showing the first signs and symptoms of illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders.
Pilates is unique in the way that it inherently incorporates the feet to improve mobility, flexibility and strength in these supportive extremities. Performing Pilates movements with bare feet stimulates the hundreds of thousands of proprioceptors in the feet, which promotes stability, protects you from injury, and stretches and strengthens the muscles of your feet.
Many students of Pilates begin to become more aware of their feet after practicing the movements for a few months; they become aware of reduced foot pain and an increase in balance and stability, and they also report a deeper appreciation for their hard-working, body-supporting feet.
If your feet are experiencing pain, discomfort or just plain neglect, here are a few simple ways you can show them a little TLC:
- Soak your feet in warm-hot water with Epsom salts for 5 minutes, a few times a week.
- Stretch your feet on a regular basis by slowly rolling your ankles in both directions, and gently stretching your toes into a flexed position for 10-15 seconds at at time.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that support foot health as much as possible.
- Give Pilates a try and see how dramatically you can improve the health of your feet (while also working out the rest of your body).
Show those feet some appreciation and you will feel your whole body benefit, from head to toe.