I’ve been a reflexologist for the past 6 years. I look at people’s feet on the reg. And no, it’s really not disgusting. And yes, I do enjoy my job.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the most common start to a session is a well meaning and totally heartfelt apology about the state of the client’s feet. Roughly 3 out of 4 patients feel the need to apologise for the state of their feet and empathise with me for the fact that I have the burdensome job of dealing with them.
It’s a strange phenomenon. It would be rare to hear someone apologising for the state of their hands, or their arms. But the humble foot is often hidden away, kept private and rarely revealed to strangers, especially for an up close inspection. Too many of us hold secret insecurities about the state of our feet that only come to light when we realise that someone will have to look at them.
But feet are awesome. Did you know that 25% of the bones in your body are in your feet? There are no less than 26 bones in each foot, as well as 13 different joints. When we jump, a single foot is designed to be able to bear weight of up to one tonne.
Feet are actually equipped to carry out very precise movements using highly refined motor skills. Your feet can bend in a number of different directions and can even pick up objects on much the same way that your hands do. Our own feet are built to have similar ranges of movement, but we just don’t use them often.
In our current world, most of us will spend the day wearing flat soled shoes and walking on flat, concrete surfaces. But our feet were built to bend, move and adapt. Our feet were built to walk across uneven surfaces, to be gently massaged by sticks and stones as we travel. In short – our feet can do so much more than we give them credit for.
Want to try some exercises to help you care for your feet? Here are some simple ideas to start refining your motor skills, and to help you connect with those beautiful tootsies:
- Walk barefoot. The number one thing you can do to add dexterity to your feet is to walk barefoot whenever possible – particularly in natural environments such as forests or beaches. Your feet will get a natural reflexology treatment and you’ll also start to gradually regain some of the mobility in the muscles of your arches and the ball of your foot.
- Try painting with your feet. Grab a piece of paper and a paintbrush and balance the brush between your big toe and your second toe. Guide it to the paper and see what happens. You might be surprised by what you create.
- Stand up straight, and then very gently, fold forwards to see if you can touch your toes, or even the ground in front of them. Once you have measured how far you can bend – take a tennis ball and roll it under the sole of your foot for up to a minute. Repeat with the other foot. Once this is done, try bending over again and see how far you can reach. From this one simple exercise you should have gained a couple of centimetres of stretch.
- Try the legs up the wall yoga pose. It’s a simple pose which involves moving your yoga mat next to a wall and then laying down with your body flat and your legs vertical up the wall. Your sitting bones should be next to the wall, or at least close to it.