Spring will officially arrive in Vancouver in just a couple of weeks! The snowdrops are ascending from the earth and the cherry blossoms will be beginning to open. And soon, Odlum Street will be in full-tilt blossom mode. The warmer weather will have us romanticizing about summer in no time, which also means we can finally prance around barefoot once again. And how do we prime those toes of ours? Well, Pilates of course!
In Pilates, we practice without shoes, much like dance or yoga. As Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise, it is safe to hit the studio barefoot. Plus it provides your feet the freedom to re-awaken and gain strength. Pilates is a holistic form of exercise. Although we often target specific muscle groups, these muscle groups do not function independent of one another. The structure and movement in one area of the body informs the freedom, strength and flexibility throughout the entire body. We agree with self.com in that our feet are supplied with nerve endings that correlate with nerves which travel up the legs and connect the entire physical form. By rekindling your relationship with your feet, you are revitalizing the rest of your body. Fred Beaumont from the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists believes that “wearing shoes all day weakens the feet and arches, but barefoot exercise strengthens the muscles and improves the arches”, and we are in total agreement! If you’d like to read more on the topic of the benefits of exercising barefoot, and when it is safe to do so, click here.
While you can most definitely join us at Full Circle for a class, you are also equipped to do a few exercises on your own! With the help of Canyon Physical Therapy, we’ve gathered a couple of simple and practical exercises that you can perform wherever you are:
- Heel Lifts – A wonderful exercise, intended for bringing strength to the feet, ankles and calves, whilst also increasing flexibility. All you need to do is stand on a flat surface, feet hip-width apart and roll your weight forward until you are resting on your toes, with your heels hovering off the floor.
- Toe Curls with Spiky Ball (or any spherical-shaped object) – Sitting or standing, place the ball beneath the arches of your feet, and slowly curl your toes over top of the ball and then release. This works the intrinsic muscles of the feet and helps with fallen arches.
- Massage with Spiky Ball (or again, with any small ball you have on hand!) – Offer your feet some therapeutic release with a little self-massage. All you need is a ball, ideally a spiky ball for a sense of mild acupressure, or perhaps a tennis or golf ball. Simply roll your feet over the ball to get into all those nooks and crannies! This can sometimes feel uncomfortable, depending on the tension in our feet, so only do it for as long as you can sustain it.