Our poor feet are often neglected, despite the fact they work hard for us all day everyday. Did you know each foot contains 26 bones? That’s total of 52, which is a quarter of our entire skeleton! Our toes and ankles help propel us forward when we walk and run, help us to jump up and land softly, to help maintain our balance and perform complex movements such as dancing and even driving. But so long as we are not in pain we tend not to think about the important role they play in our everyday lives.

Give your feet some love with toe yoga!

In my practice as a reflexologist and as a yoga teacher I have noticed how cramped and rigid many people’s feet and ankles are. It’s very important to maintain flexibility and mobility of the whole foot, including the toes and ankles as they have a huge influence on your posture, gait and balance, all of which become more important the older we get.

The number of joints in the feet allow for a greater range of movement than most of us realise or utilise. Ancient people walked barefoot over wild ground where the whole foot moulded to the terrain and so they kept their mobility. These days we walk almost entirely on flat surfaces and in shoes, which tends to keep the foot as one fixed block. This encourages the ligaments to tighten and joints to stiffen as well as affecting the natural arches of the feet. So to keep all your toes in good working order I have devised a short ‘toe yoga’ programme!

These are short exercises that you can do either standing or sitting depending on your ability, inclination and location. Ideally they are done in bare feet, but in socks is fine too. First thing in the morning is a great time to wake your feet up for the day or if you’ve been sat at a desk for a long time they can revive tired feet.

They should only take 2 or 3 minutes to perform:

1. Start by rotating the ankles, first clockwise then anti-clockwise

2. Then come up onto tip-toes as high as you can

3. Next, place the top of the toes on the floor so they are curled under, one foot at a time if you are standing! Roll the foot from little toe to big toe and back again.

4. Place the feet flat on the floor and roll between the outer and inner edges of your feet

5. Return the feet to a flat position and spread the toes as wide as possible

6. Now the tricky bit! a) lift just the big toes, b) move just the little toes, c) lift just the middle 3 toes.

NOTES: Don’t be alarmed if there are a few clicks and cracks – it’s very common. Please do not strain and don’t continue anything that hurts.

Benefits of toe yoga

The benefits of increased foot and ankle flexibility:

* Improved balance and stability

* Smoother gait and longer stride

* Greater range of movement

* Less prone to falling and/or twisting ankles

* Better sports performance

Other foot benefits include:

* Improved circulation

* Reduced water retention

* Better bone alignment

* Healthier skin

Give it a go and let us know how you get on!