Let’s talk foot placement
We all stand a little, or sometimes a lot, differently. Some of us stand with one foot slightly turned out, or in. Some stand with both feet turned out, or in. You might stand with more weight on your right foot while someone else may stand with more weight on their left foot. Some people stand more on their heels and some people lean into their toes. These are the habits of the body, built over time or through injury. Any foot placement slightly off its neutral alignment can cause a chain reaction through the joints, muscles, and connective tissue up the body. These minor shifts are the body’s way of trying to maintain equilibrium. At first these shifts in stance may not be an issue, the body is brilliant at adapting and adjusting to maintain balance, but over time, over years, or decades of habitual foot placement, the other joints will have taken on undue pressure, skewed movement and imbalanced weight distribution which may contribute to ankle, knee, hip, lower back, and other issues.
To help re-train the body and take the skewed pressure and imbalance off the joints and muscles, we start with how we stand in our feet.
Looking down at your feet, notice the angles from your toes to your heels. For most people, though you may have to adjust a bit, aligning your second and third toes to the centre of your ankle will place the ankle joints in a neutral, or low pressure, position.
You may notice that when you place your feet in this aligned way, your knees feel different, or your hips feel tilted, or your back shifts. This is the body realigning itself to a new foundation. As long as you are not experiencing pain after placing your feet in this way you can continue the practice. If you find you experience pain in your joints because of shifting the placement of your feet please visit your doctor to identify what may be going on.
To further assist your body in finding the new alignment, try placing your feet directly underneath your hips. This will allow some pressure to reduce in the hip joints. The simplest way to measure this is to make your hands into fists and place these two fists side-by-side between your feet.
Once you’ve set up your feet, stand (or sit) tall and notice what you feel in your body and breath. Try releasing your knees slightly if they are in a locked position and allow the experience of weight to travel down into your feet. Now that your knees are set up in this consciously-aligned way your feet are ready and able to support the whole body.
Try building your foot-awareness throughout your day. You can align your feet when you are standing in the grocery store, or at your kitchen sink. You can practice this when you are brushing your teeth or sitting at your desk. Giving your feet and, in turn your whole body, this experience, even just for a little bit each day, will help to re-train the muscles, joints and connective tissue to maintain this supportive alignment.
Beginning with a conscious foundation will support your practice, your body and your mind.