How to Activate Your Feet

Your physical health begins with your feet. Here's how to support them, so that they can support you. 

floating in water

As a body educator and therapist, I discovered that even though I was able to relieve people's problems, if I didn’t fix their feet the problems would recur. As I developed methods to work on the feet, specifically, I found that correcting foot alignment often improved the original issue, such as hip pain, for example. It became clear to me that the feet are absolutely crucial to the well-being of the entire body. Because your feet are your foundation, they’re connected to every problem you may have elsewhere in your body.

No matter where an injury is, you stand on it. In fact, you can usually track it all the way down to the feet. There’s almost always a relationship between a knee or hip problem and the feet. If a hip or knee is not aligned properly, the foot below it will be misaligned too. Since misaligned feet don’t actively hold you up, your body weight drops heavily into them, locking in the misalignment pattern that originally caused the knee or hip problem.

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Over time, the feet break down, causing other problems such as low back pain or tightness in your knees, hips or back. In general, if you try to fix an injured part without realigning your feet, the chances are that the injury will come back.

The converse is also true: The more function your feet have, the more strongly they support you in an upright position. Your whole body feels lighter and freer. You stand straight; your posture improves. You discover that when your feet really hold you up, it’s actually hard to collapse and slump. You will feel these things are true from the moment you begin my program.

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Because your feet are your foundation, they’re connected to every problem you may have elsewhere in your body.

 Activate Your Feet, Lift Your Body

  1. Stand and position your bare feet parallel to each other and hip distance apart.
  2. Slump, dropping your shoulders, chest and head toward your hips. Stay here for a minute or two, letting your entire upper body weight collapse. 
  3. Notice how heavy this posture makes you feel, with so much weight bearing into your feet. 
  4. Now keep your feet in the same position but press them into the floor. Press the toes down with extra force. 
  5. Keeping the toes pressed into the floor, inhale and lift the entire body. Feel how easy it is for the body to lift when the feet are engaged. 
  6. Press your toes down into the power stance, inhale, connecting your feet to lift and lengthen the body upwards, improving your posture.

This short, simple exercise shows what a tremendous difference active, functioning feet can make. 

"The Foot Fix" by Yamuna Zake book cover

Adapted with permission from The Foot Fix, by Yamuna Zake. Text copyright © Yamuna Zake 2021. Design and typography copyright © Watkins Media Limited 2021.

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