Moshe Feldenkrais was known to say ‘If you deal with an injury locally, you will have a problem for life.’ He knew that the body is a system which functions through the changing relationships within it and relationships to the outside. A model of medicine which sections the body into parts, each to be fixed in isolation from the others, has its limitations. Is a foot still a foot when separated from the body that it carries and which carries it? Is a foot still itself without the responsibilities that shaped its form and range of movement?
According to Feldenkrais’ method, helping our feet function better requires seeing the larger picture in which our feet operate.
Massaging the muscles and bones of your feet feels great and should be done to keep them flexible and strong. However, if your spine, legs and body overall do not move freely in many directions, neither will your feet. The inverse is also true, balancing over a rigid foot may strain your back as it works to perform the adjustments your foot cannot. The feet are mechanically and neurologically tied to standing, walking, and climbing movements; they are inseparable from the ecosystem of forces which travel down the spine, through the legs and ankles and into the ground.
Isolating our feet from our whole self may help us research their intricacies, but if we do not reintegrate them into a full picture, we may find ourselves with ‘a problem for life.’
If you are interested in restoring some of this movement, you may want to experiment with some of the following:
Stand comfortably and move your pelvis in a slow, horizontal circle. Breathe simply and observe how easily you can bring your pelvis through different parts of the circle. Listen to how your feet change their shape and pressure on the floor.
Now, cross your right leg over so that your right foot will be to the left (and in front) of your left foot. Slowly begin to circle your pelvis, and observe how your circle is affected by the crossed stance. What do your feet do now?
You can do this slow easy circle in any position you might stand in (or want to stand in): crossed, standing on one leg, in demi-pointe, or standing on an inclined surface. These challenges, if done slowly and with attention, will enrich your brain’s connection between your spine and your feet.
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