Healthy Toe Stretches
Don't forget to stretch your toes. You need mobile toes for balance, healthy walking mechanics, and foot health.
Every day, take your feet in your hands and stretch your toes apart side to side, easily and comfortably. Make sure all your toes can move apart from each other, and that each one moves up and down. It is not healthy for your toes to remain stuck together and not moving.
Sitting in various ways can be a built-in stretch for the toes. If you sit on your heels, as in the photo at left, or kneel on your hands and knees with toes curled under you, or when you are sitting in your chair right now, see if you can bend your foot behind you and still touch all your toes to the floor - even your little toes. Don't force toes to bend, just gently see if they all reach the floor. After stretching your toes back (toward the top of your foot) bend them all down toward the bottom of your foot. Many people, particularly people who wear heeled shoes wind up with toes that are bent upward all the time. The tendons on the top of the foot can shorten from keeping the toes bent up, and the toes can get stuck in a pulled-up position. Future posts will cover more on stretching your feet for mobility, pain control, and health.
When you sit, as in the photo above, see if you can rise to a stand without pushing off the floor with your hands or bracing your hands against your leg or knee. Just use your leg muscles and get a strength and balance exercise while you get a nice stretch on the bottom of your feet.
The photo was taken when I studied a medicine course in Cambodia. Before and after classes you practice respect, concentration, and self-discipline. While you do this, you get a lot of physical exercise - it is commonplace for people of any age to kneel without using hands for anything except to hold the candles, flowers, and incense, and to rise the same way. The photo was taken in the middle of bowing, so I am not fully straightened yet. The nun is laughing. My Cambodian is so bad that I made her laugh. I think that is good exercise and good medicine too.
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