"Exercise that's done strictly for its own physical sake, divorced from the emotions and human spirit, isn't satisfying, isn't fun, and eventually fails. To feel good enough to last a lifetime, an exercise regimen must satisfy the heart and soul."
The Nia Technique, by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Foot fitness & barefoot conditioning

For the complete article about healthy feet and barefoot conditioning, see my holistic health site.

For years I had chronic ankle and arch (plantar) pain that limited my enjoyment of hiking and other activities. In 2005 I started taking Nia classes, and within the first 3 weeks the pain in my ankle was greatly relieved and my foot felt more relaxed than it had in years. I continue to learn about foot care, and in addition to Nia, I've found these things to be helpful: a daily foot-massage, trigger-point therapy, and foot soaks. See below for recommendations.

For those with plantar fasciitis, weak ankles, etc. Nia will help increase the strength and flexibility of your feet and the stability of your lower extremity joints. It's gentle on the joints (non-impact), and will teach you to heal yourself through the sensation of pleasure. Nia is usually done barefoot, but if you need or prefer, you can wear a flexible-soled shoe with orthotics, or arch support bands. Comfort is the key.

  • Give yourself an Ayurvedic foot massage (pad-abhyanga) in just a few minutes a day. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning 'science of life,' and is the most ancient system of natural health care (from the same tradition as yoga). See www.MAPI.com for the Rejuvenation massage oil for feet and legs - wonderful stuff!
  • See the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, a guide to self-care pain management, for many common conditions including plantar fasciitis. Based on medical research, this book has helped me, my family, and friends relieve pain in the hips, knees, shoulder, back, and foot problems including gout!
  • Contrast hydrotherapy foot soak, alternating HOT then ICE COLD several times, for 5-10 minutes. End with the hot soak.
  • A great aromatherapy foot soak called Savoir is available at Nest Organics on Lexington Ave. in Asheville.
  • Acupuncture and reflexology can also be very helpful.
  • Stretch your calves, flex your feet, spread your toes, and roll your ankles before you get out of bed. This is especially helpful for plantar fasciitis. Do this frequently during the day.
  • Try a Prostretch calf stretcher to prevent and treat plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, etc.

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