VISUALIZING FOOT HEALTH
Visualization in this context is interpreted as the use of mental images to influence physical ability, control pain or prepare for performance. It is employed extensively as a training tool in competitive sports. In our case we are using visualization to improve foot function, especially for those who have nerve damage or for anyone who has more difficulty with their feet than they used to. Visualization helps to reduce tension, improve circulation and flow of energy. By visualizing using your feet in a positive way, you promote strength, balance and function.
Examples of how visualization can help:
- A number of years ago one of my students suffered a terrible event that resulted in 4 crushed vertebrae and multiple fractures to ALL her ribs. For 2 years she visualized daily how she would one day be performing Hatha Yoga. She reached her goal!
- A member of my dance company was so terrible at a particular choreography that I was going to have to cut her from an upcoming performance. I did not see her for 2 weeks. She came back and executed the choreography perfectly! She had not practiced it at all, at least not in a traditional way. What she had done was visualized in her mind doing the dance in great detail a number of times. The act of visualizing the steps had successfully trained her nervous system to be able to perform them flawlessly.
Roll through the central line of your feet: This is a productive visualization while walking or when flexing and pointing your foot during seated foot exercises. The central line of the foot runs from the center of the back of the heel, through the arch and forward out through the 2nd toe. Focus on this line as you roll through your feet when you walk. Heel touches first, roll through the arch, push off with the ball of the foot.
More Helpful Foot Visualizations:
- Visualize beauty. Visualize pleasure. Visualize delighted feet. Visualize pleasant sensation: water, sun, sand, the touch of a child's foot, the fun of splashing. Imgine that your feet and toes are supple, nimble and agile.
- Place your feet flat on the floor while seated, hip distance apart with your toes pointing straight ahead and your knees directly over your ankles (check yourself in a mirror). Imagine drawing energy in through the center of the sole of your feet. Draw that energy up your legs, through your knees, thighs and hips, up your spine and the back of your neck and out the top of your head.
- Imagine the bottoms of your feet growing roots into the earth.
- Imagine headlights coming out the fronts of your toes. Think of the fronts of your toes as being open instead of closed. Envision energy shooting out your toe headlights.
- Imagine having webbed toes that spread out as you step.
Mobility in the ball joints of the feet is crucial for improving balance. Most of us use our feet as if they are single blocks. Learn to stretch and bend in these joints at the base of the toes, using massage, visualization and the foot exercises of Building Better Balance.
Foot Dermatomes: A dermatome is a root nerve map. The root nerves of the spine can reflect pain in the foot itself. When sensation is felt in a particular area of the foot it may be related to impingement of the root nerve close to the spine. One way to determine if this phenomenon is involved is to rub topical anti inflammatory gel or creme into the sacral or lumbar spine. Foot relief may result, an important fact to tell your doctor. A special feature on the use of dermatomes is included in the 3rd Building Better Balance DVD, Developing Spine Health.