Our feet are quite versatile parts of our body. Not only do they carry all our weight, which is amazing if you consider that they consist of so many different small bones which are connected to each other. Also, they are responsible for our ability to take healthy steps, to keep our spine straight and relaxed, to balance out on almost every surface and they play a very important role in our emotional, mental and energetic state.
Most people use their feet every day, not realizing how greatly structured they are. Their ability to be steady on the one side as well as their great flexibility on the other side is truly stunning. This makes it almost sad that roughly 90% of all western people I have seen so far don’t use their feet the way they are supposed to be used. There are two main aspects which are important. One is the softness of the skin, muscle and tendon structure in the foot and the other is the movability of the bones of our feet. Both aspects are connected with each other, although they are not always responsible for each other’s possible shortcomings. And there is one more important thing which doesn’t so much concern the foot itself but its connection to the leg: The ankle, and the motivity of this extremely important joint.
Problems in the foot can either be caused by the wrong “usage” of the foot, by emotional or mental blockages or by structural problems in the rest of the body. Modern shoes and too much sitting are two more aspects that don’t always work in the feets favor. The feet show almost all aspects of the body’s structural needs, and their state of tension clearly indicates stress, relaxation or other basic patterns of life.
Joints are meant to be used. That’s why they are there. So you could say, every joint that’s not used correctly, either because it’s too stiff or not used in the correct angle, will generate problems for the body has to compensate for it in other parts. When you move, e.g. walk, your feet and ankles should move too and usually switch between tension and relaxation. Apart from the basic movement pattern which in most of us is a mixture of our own making and motion patterns which we’ve learned from others or patterns we’ve copied along the way, the ability to use our feet correctly is also influenced by our emotional, mental and energetic state. All three play a very important role in how flexible and agile the muscles are, which in return leads to better or worse abilities to adapt to the surface the feet are walking on.
As you probably know, the feet are also used in what we nowadays call “reflexology”. Originally this method to influence the whole body via specific areas, like the feet or the hands, was designed by indigenous people all over the globe to support personal development processes and to channel energies received from experience. It was also used to help with healing and in one’s spiritual development. The method of reflexology only got its name later on, when it was discovered by scientists who started to adapt the techniques to modern therapeutic treatment. It can be used to relax the body, to sooth unwanted emotional outbursts, to clear and calm the mind and to bring the function of internal organs in balance. Foot reflexology is based on very physical manipulations of the feet. This in return shows how important our feet are in our overall wellbeing and how much they act as an indicator of internal processes. You might have heard of the immense health benefits of walking barefoot in sand. This is due to the wonderful massage your feet get on this constantly changing, uneven surface and also due to the fact that they are “forced” out of their everyday state of tension. Just as little as not moving your toes on one foot for, say, three or four days can already alter the tension pattern in the body in a way that increases stress due to the lack of expression. Emotions “want” to be expressed because emotions are an expression of interaction and life. Expression is their nature!
So what does that mean?
Now what do you do when you feel strong emotions? It probably depends on the situation as long as the emotions are not too strong so that you can’t control them anymore. For instance, depending again on which nationality you are, you will express some emotions while keeping others to yourself. In some modern societies, like the British (no offense 😉 ), it’s considered completely inadequate to express your true emotions, as long as you are around people. In it’s worst cases this happens even between family members. This leads to immense internal pressure and the need to get rid of it. One of those “release channels” is actually the football stadium where people are screaming their soul out, which is actually an expression of all that otherwise unhealthy bottled up emotions. This sadly often leads to violence because the emotions have been locked away for too long! Whenever you keep emotions to yourself for a very long time, or even worse, you don’t even allow yourself to “look” at them, this will have effects on your body structure and on your overall wellbeing. Physically, emotion are different states of tension, different chemical, hormonal and pulsatory states of your cells and different neurons being activated in your brain. Emotions literally are a physical, internal or external expression of something that touches you in a certain way. It’s proven that when you deprive yourself of sleep for too long, you will actually go crazy, because the emotional and mental processes that are normally running in your sleep don’t work anymore. So sleep is one of the things which are important for a healthy emotional and mental state. It is during our sleep that the body has time to process all the impulses it was confronted with during the day. The active part of this processing normally takes place throughout the day by expressing emotions verbally or through action. Up until a certain point this happens automatically, no matter if you want it to or not, as emotional impulses access those muscle layers of the internal organs which you normally don’t have any conscious control over. But the more emotions there are and the more you don’t allow them to surface, the more of those reactions in the deep muscular layers get stuck which puts unnatural pressure on the fascia. If fascia start to stick to one another in a certain pattern were they are supposed to glide over one another, emotion is literally stuck in it’s expression which leads to the change of internal tensional patterns of your body. First signs of such changes are restlessness, stress, tension, the feeling of being stiff instead of flexible, etc. I guess that everyone knows what I’m talking about because most people feel these things from time to time. Some might not feel them anymore, which doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have the same problems. If they can remember those feelings from the past and haven’t changed their lifestyles in the meantime, there is a good chance that the body just stopped signalling the problem without it being solved. The body numbs itself. I will explain this mechanism in detail in another article. For now, it would lead too far away from our current topic.
To express itself, the body uses movement, which again means that it uses joints and muscles. If there is no movement at all and the body is forced to stay in a certain form, the variety of expression diminishes and after a while, the body actually loses some of its ability to express itself through movement. The problem is that the internal tension keeps rising, which leads to an unnatural positioning of the body. As soon as this happens, we tend to consciously try to compensate the bad posture, which again leads to even more tension and so on.
Long story short, it’s extremely important for the body to be in motion. The structure of our feet translates into the knees, into the hips, even into the spine and finally into the head and shoulder area. So, no matter how many relaxation exercises or postural corrections for the spinal column and the back you might know, they won’t be as effective as they could be, as long as your feet are not used correctly or are in a state of suboptimal structure. It’s like the old analogy of building a house on a strong foundation. Our feet are our physical foundation, so this is what needs to be optimized first and the rest will to fall into place almost by magic. In my health classes for companies I’ve had a couple of people with permanent headache or shoulder problems. And many of them were completely astounded when suddenly their pain was gone, not from a massage or some applied technique, but from correcting the structure in the arch of the foot again with only a couple of easily learned exercises. You see, a lot of the tension people carry is only a compensation for problems in the foundation (the feet). Emotions or unprocessed experiences, no matter if physical, emotional, mental or energy wise, also show in the feet where they would normally be channelled and expressed. If this mechanism is somehow limited, internal restlessness increases. Just remember, the connection between your body and your expression always happens both ways. Either, your lifestyle and your mental and emotional ability to deal with your life show in your body or your body structure influences your expression, your energy level and/or your emotional and mental adaptability.
In terms of physical aspects, I’ve already pointed out that the whole body structure basically depends on the correct structure of the feet. What this means is shown in the following list
Physical aspects that are influenced by incorrect structure in the feet:
- Pelvis (tension and posture)
- Iliosacral joints
- Blood pressure
- Breathing (due to changes in the tension of the diaphragm which is closely connected to the hip joints and the tension which is needed to lift the legs)
- Immune system (due to changes in the lymphatic flow)
- Sexual drive
- Emotional flexibility and balance
- Thinking patterns
The feet and their structure play a very important role in how we step forward in our lives. Weather it’s with ease or with a lot more effort than necessary. To find out more about how to take steps with ease and how to literally not stand in your own way, check out the related articles and video tutorials. Meanwhile, just try to consciously move your feet and your ankles during the day. A good thing to do would also be to give yourself a nice foot massage, so basically just grab your feet, each at a time, and try to gently work through all the moving parts you can find, in order to make them smooth and flexible. You don’t need a degree in reflexology or a massage training in order to do yourself something good.
Having a good structure, physiologically correct movement and good interaction with the surroundings through your feet will boost your energy level, calm your mind, and make your life seem much easier to handle, because being flexible in your foundation always leads to being more agile and joyful in your whole life.
Just allow yourself the freedom of your feet and you will see the benefits.