Fit Feet

By Heath and Nicole Reed

Here are a series of healing moves for the feet that rehab or prehab injuries, sustain a harmonious engagement with gravity, and promote multidimensionality of movement. We recommend this four-level progression of intensity to keep your feet fit.

Foot roll  

Low or No-Load
This simple and potent first-aid healing move for knee, ankle, and foot pain activates and coordinates the muscles of the lower extremity to recalibrate synergistic movement among these structures.
• In a standing position, place one foot in front of the other as if you are about to take a step forward.
• Balance most of your body weight onto your front foot.
• Begin to peel the back foot off the ground, slowly moving as though you are taking a step forward.
• Pause your movement at the toe tips just before your foot leaves the ground. Keep your middle toe in line with your heel as you roll from heel to toe tips. You may feel a gentle stretch in your toes.
• Roll the back foot down. While keeping the vast majority of body weight on the front foot, repeat this gentle rocking forward and backward several times or until you feel an awakening and a shift in sensation in the back foot and lower limb.

Toes up, foot up

Range of motion, Coordination, and Flexibility
This healing move may be performed while sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you.
• Begin in plantar flexion, with feet and toes pointed away from you toward the floor. Inhale and lift only your toes. Then, lift your entire foot into dorsiflexion, with your toes pointed toward the ceiling.
• Exhale and press the ball of your foot away from you, but keep all the toes lifted. Then, point your toes all the way down into plantar flexion.
• Repeat several times. This is a gentle way to bathe the foot and ankle in synovial fluid (which lubricates joints) while letting go of compensations, allowing the nervous system to relearn proper synergistic movement between toes, foot, ankle, and lower leg.

Foot grabs

This healing move generates strength and foot dexterity while reinforcing strength and flexibility of the foot arches. When the muscles and nerves in our feet are communicating and coordinating smoothly, we create more stability around our ankles, knees, and hips and greater support for our lower back.
• Sit or stand.
• Place a towel or blanket flat on the floor.
• Use your toes to crumple and gather the fabric into as small of a ball as possible.
• Then, use your toes to unwrap the crumpled ball back to the original flattened position. Repeat several times daily for best results.  

Kneeling tucked toes

Stretching and Strengthening
• Begin in a kneeling position with your hands on the floor in front of you to support your body weight.
• While kneeling, curl and tuck all your toes under your feet and, if it feels safe for your knees, begin to lift up into a kneeling position so your hips come directly above your heels.
• Keep your hands on the floor in front of you for support until you are able to rest your hands on your knees. This may take some time and may not be for everyone.
• Be patient and kind with yourself as you slowly open into your plantar fascia. Sustain the stretch for 30 seconds and work up to 3–5 minutes to help rebuild your arches and heal foot issues like plantar fasciitis, hammertoe, and pronation.

Practicing your favorite healing moves for five minutes daily will often provide better results than practicing for an hour every other day. Committing daily to a little self-care and TLC for your feet generates a strong foundation, a launchpad for a healthy spine, and a clear mind from the ground up.  

Heath and Nicole Reed are co-founders of Living Metta (living “loving kindness”) and want everyone in the world to enjoy the experience of befriending their body. The Reeds lead workshops and retreats across the country and overseas, including Thailand, Hawaii, and France, and have been team-teaching touch and movement therapy for 18 years. In addition to live classes, the Reeds offer massage therapy and self-care videos, DVDs, and online trainings, which can be found at