At most any hour of the day, my kids can be found outside without shoes, gasp! Believe it or not most moms these days tell there kids that they can't go outside, unless they put on some shoes! Don't you remember running around barefoot when you were a kid? I do, and I was not a tom-boy. I was a house mouse. Given a choice of chores on my grandmother's farm, go gather the eggs or possibly pick blackberries, I would choose to stay inside and do the dishes or dust! Now pickin watermelons was a different story. You got to ride in the back of the pick up truck and when we were done, pick any watermelon, and with a pocket knife, eat all you wanted til you were so full you couldn't possibly do anything else for the rest of the day but bask in the sunshine. Those were the days.
Feet. Back to feet. Going barefoot actually strengthens the feet and when kids who seem to have flat arches at first begin to move and use their feet unsupported, arches begin to develop. If an injury already exists or there is pain, then barefoot is not recommended until that injury has healed. Once healed, gradually going back to bare feet will strengthen muscles and naturally break up facia.
A student complained yesterday of a dull ache that transformed into shooting pain on the bottom of her feet. She doesn't feel it all the time, just when she practices her martial arts, runs and now she's done her second yoga class... the pain was intense.
Our feet have 52 bones, a quarter of the bones in your body. The Calcaneus is the heel bone and largest bone in the foot that takes all of our weight when we stand or walk. The smaller bones, metatarsals (toes) are used for propulsion (jump and and move) and balancing. The movements of the joints (33!) are supported by the ligaments (6 in the ankle joint alone) and muscles. There are also 3 nerves that run along the legs (tibial, deep fibular, and sciatic nerves). Neruoma which is a thickening of the nerve sheath on the bottom of the foot, can press cause pain by pressing on the nerve itself. Learning proper alignment of feet in a foundational pose like tadasana and other standing poses will help correct this poor posture pattern. Breaking up the facia (connective tissue) on the sole of the foot with massage or rolling the feet on a hard ball or tennis ball can help. Simple stretches for the ankles (virasana or thunderbolt pose to stretch the front of the ankles in plantar flexion or pointing of the toes and malasana pose to stretch the back of the ankle in dorsiflexion) will improve feet flexibility, as well as improve the flexibility of the soleus (calf muscle) and hamstrings.
There's so much more to healthy feet. But the best advise I can give is to move them, touch them, and look at them... do you rotate your feet in or out? What can you do to improve your feet? Chances are the rest of your body and your posture will benefit. Happy feet.