5 Tips for Re-Wilding your Feet
I still remember a boy telling me I had monkey feet in 3rd grade, and I was so embarrassed I wanted to hide my feet away, avoiding flip flops and sandals as much as possible! I had bunions, wider feet and stout toes. Though I was horrified as a 9 year old, it was minor in retrospect and faded easily over time. I still have wide feet, bunions, and now I love my cute little chubby toes.
The blessing of bunions is that I chose to never endure the pain of high heels (or at least VERY rarely). Many of my old sorority group photos show a row of high heels and then my flat footed sandals - ha! I value comfort over style especially when it comes to my feet, thanks to the bunions! No suffocated feet due to too small shoes. I’d rather go barefoot! Or be the only one in sandals at a formal event.
Since letting go of the childhood protection mechanism of hiding my feet, I go barefoot as often as possible. When I’m not barefoot, I’m often in minimal, thin-soled sandals. I don’t go barefoot or on thin-soles all the time. Variety works and makes sense for me, and I like my cold season trekking boots. After years of connecting with my feet through yoga, only recently did I realize how far I could spread my yogi toes! I’m working towards the ability to consciously move each toe independent of the others.
Why am I telling you about being teased as a 9 year old with wide feet and what kind of shoes I wear?!
A woman on retreat told me she was envious as I did the outdoor walking meditation barefoot. I encouraged her to try it, but for some reason she didn’t feel right to. "Oh, I wouldn't..." she responded. In part, this post is for her.
And really, I’m telling you because there is a wealth of health and wisdom in RE-WILDING your feet! Feet change and adapt, and it goes both ways: on one extreme, getting deformed, misaligned, and contributing to health problems (seemingly unrelated) from improper care (bad shoes, etc.) AND, on another, becoming strong, resilient, and free with proper care, including room to breathe and contact with the earth.
When our feet are strong, our whole body benefits. Health is holistic. Electric energy connected to all our major organs runs through the feet. You can massage the knuckle pads on the soles of your feet and feel relief in your shoulders. You can stimulate the lymphatic system by stroking the tops of the feet. (Look up reflexology if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
Feet are our FOUNDATION. They are key players in physical balance. Compromise one toe and balance is thrown off entirely. Embody your feet and balance can improve.
Feet are our connection to the earth as we walk it. When our feet touch the earth, there is an exchange of electrical charges that positively affect our bodies. Grounding is real, and earth kissin' feet help us to be grounded. Otherwise, we may feel a lack of stability and connection in our lives and with the natural world (anxiety, depression).
Here are a 5 tips for creating health from the feet up!
Stretch your toes! Flex, point, curl the toes. Circle the ankles. Wave the toes. Attempt to move one toe at a time, independent of the others.
Go BAREFOOT. At least 5 min a day make contact with the earth with your bare feet. Go walking as often as you can sans shoes. Dirty feet are happy feet :)
Get rid of uncomfortable shoes! Stop torturing your feet. Care about the comfort and health of your feet. Wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive to you. You may try barefoot, minimalist shoes. Many people build up and train their way into these kinds of shoes.
Connect to your feet in meditation. This is beautiful to do while barefoot outside, but you can do it inside too. Stand or sit in a chair with your feet on the ground, hip width distance. Drop your awareness into your feet. It helps to wiggle toes, or lift a foot, place it down, and then the other. Sense as if you can feel from inside your feet. Feel the ground beneath, imagine the soil, seeds, roots... Breathe in earthy life force energy through your feet, up your body, exhale, and feel your feet grounded and connecting deeper with the earth.
Foot spa! Choose your favorite way to pamper or try them all. Treat yourself a warm foot bath as you lovingly wash your feet. Exfoliate using a salt scrub or pumice stone. Massage your feet with lotion or oil, taking a few minutes to gently lather your feet.