If you’ve been to some of my recent classes you might have noticed that I’m really into toes and feet at the moment. This probably has to with the fact that as I’ve been spending a lot of my time practicing hand balancing and handstands lately. You might be thinking, what does standing on your hands have to do with toes? A lot. Keep reading.
If you’re holding a handstand, a lot of your balancing ability is dependant, amongst other things, on strength, micromovements and dexterity of your fingers and hands. Dexterity is simply the skill in performing a task. The micromovements, in other words are closely related and dictate the macromovements of your body.
Now, exit handstand and stand up. The above applies to your feet too. The difference is, while we move hands and fingers a lot, we sadly forget our toes. Toes should be free and able to play; our feet are meant to be strong and cover as large surface area as possible. However, from early age we enclose them in shoes, trainers, pointy high heels etc so unsurprisingly often the inevitable result is dexterity. Lack of strength, flexibility and mobility.
Enter yoga. I often see students in class really struggling in yoga balancing postures. They’re focused, strong, determined and still keep falling out time and time again. Sadly, I am yet to go to yoga class where a yoga teacher even mentions toe dexterity and how it relates to balancing postures.
And don’t even get me started on toe dorsiflexion, feet strengthening, mobility and active flexibility, functional movement range etc… Call me cynical, but I do believe that prior to clearing chakras, energies etc one should really learn to walk and stand on their own two feet. But, that’s just me.
Back to toes. Why you need to start playing with them? Poor toe dorsiflexion can adversely affect athletic performance and it can be closely related to many other problems such as Plantar Fasciatis ( got a job that involves you standing for long hours?), Runners Knee, over time Stress Fractures, poor trunk stability and single leg balance, etc…
Luckily, it is possible to improve your toe dexterity but like anything worth having it takes some commitment and work. Here’s what to do:
Walk around barefoot a bit.
Spread toes wide.
Lift and squeeze things with your toes.
Practice moving a single toe independently from other toes.
(big toe and small toe dorsiflexion)
Practice your yoga chair pose on your toes with heels pushed forward.
Have a look at below the video for some ideas.