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Toe Yoga Challenge!

Happy Thursday to you, Thriving San Di-a-gans!

As people that live in Southern California, you probably all know and have experienced the outstanding health and wellness benefits that can occur from regular yoga practice, or at least you feel bad about not doing yoga because you know you should….hehehehe.

Either way, this week’s topic of discussion is called Toe Yoga, which is a fancy set of exercises for your feet that you can perform to help improve overall body awareness, alignment, strength and balance, which can be helpful in all walks of life.

Weak, intrinsic foot muscles can lead to many common orthopedic issues like the dreaded plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and can physically change the shape of your foot. Some of you may be saying, “Who cares? They are just my feet!”

Efficient alignment and strength of the foot are as important as the foundation is to a house. Because, if the foot is dysfunctional, then everything else above it will have to change or compensate and can break down in some way. Needless to say, Lauren and I constantly see this issue with all types of patients. Sadly, we usually see them after they have tried to switch their shoes 32 times (sometimes for function and sometimes just because they were cuter…be honest!), tried 10 different types of orthotics, or after they have foam rolled the bottom of their foot for 23 hours a day. Not to say that a better pair of shoes, orthotics and even foam rolling can’t help, but there has to be an ACTIVE component performed so that you can have some chance to ACHIEVE AND KEEP efficient alignment, strength, and endurance while being active.

Alright, enough lecture, take those shoes and socks off, let those puppies breathe and LET'S LEARN HOW TO DO IT!

There are 4 movements overall, while the first position is maintained throughout movements 2-4. To start, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor or stand. Try to perform each movement with both feet at the same time so you can see which side is the rebellious/harder side.

Movement 1:

Doming or creating an ACTIVE arch: With both feet flat on the floor pull the base of the toes or the “balls” of the feet back toward your heels (kind of like you are trying to crunch a towel under your foot. A common mistake is lifting the arch by shifting weight to the outside of the foot. Not good! Try to keep your whole foot touching, EXCEPT for the arch part. Once you have done it correctly, relax and do it 20 more times, hahaha seriously, do it.

Movement 2:

Perform movement 1 again so you start in good alignment, then keep toes 2-5 down while you do a thumbs up with your big toe hold for a couple seconds and repeat 19 more times. Keep the ball of the foot just beneath the big toe down on the ground and keep that arch lifted/domed!

Movement 3:

You guessed it, perform Movement 1 again then do the opposite of Movement 2. Press your big toes into the floor while lifting toes 2-5 up off the ground, hold for a couple seconds and then repeat 19 more times. Keep that arch domed!

Movement 4:

Again, do Movement 1 to start. Keep the dome and lift up all ten toes in the air then splay them apart and then put only the big and baby toe down. Hold for a couple seconds and then repeat 19 more times.

GREAT job!!!! Some of you may be thinking that was really hard and you must have to be some sort of crazy Olympic gymnast to do all 4 movements but that is not true. With enough practice and possibly some treatment from a skilled Physical Therapist you will be able to improve significantly.

Speaking of practice, Lauren and I would like to challenge you, the THRIVE community. Send us a video of your best shot at all 4 movements, to or tag us on Instagram or Facebook @thrivphysicaltherapysd and we’ll pick a winner by Friday night! The winner receives a free 30-minute Physical Therapy session with Lauren or Aaron and Gus our Frenchie if you’d like :) Good luck to everyone and happy foot cramping!

See you all soon!

Your Physical Therapists (AKA Doctors of Movement),

Dr. Snyder & Dr. Mallari

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