Ah, it’s almost summer time, and during the warmer months of the year we tend to go barefoot more often. That’s good news for the bones, muscles and tendons in our feet because, being shoeless, they’ll get the chance to spread and feel the ground beneath them!
In my last blog post I wrote about the flexor digitorum longus (FDL) and how it plays a major role in the gripping action of the toes. A thin muscle that begins at the tibia, it thickens as it extends down the length of the calf. The FDL then passes through the ankle and reaches the sole of the foot where it splits into four tendons, each connecting to one of the 2nd through 5th toes. If your toes have been constricted in tight fitting shoes, the muscles and tendons that support them need flexibility and strengthening exercises to awaken them so they are ready for barefoot walking. Likewise, it’s important to invest dedicated time in spreading the metatarsals of the feet as they are often also compressed in cramped toe boxes of shoes.
In preparation for putting your best barefoot forward, roll Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls on the bottom of the feet to revive the FDL and activate the other muscles surrounding it. Using a back-and-forth stripping action, roll the balls from the heel to the ball of the foot. This encourages widening of the metatarsals and much needed increase in blood flow to the plantar fascia area, which runs along the underside of the FDL.
Now primed for movement, practice the Yoga Tune Up® Toe Separation Exercise that Jill Miller demonstrates below to articulate the bones and joints in your metatarsals and phalanges. These are also terrific techniques for flip-flop feet as the gripping muscles of all five toes will be especially happy with this restorative attention.