Did you know butterflies taste with their feet, elephants use their feet to hear (they pick up vibrations of the earth through their soles), or that each human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and more than 7,000 nerve endings? That’s pretty elaborate and fascinating! No wonder a foot massage feels so good! The intricate structure of the foot is like the arch of a gothic cathedral with an exceptional suspension design. This construction allows for shock absorption while walking as half your body weight transfers to your toes when the heel lifts.
Physically, we are one of the most unstable mammals since we walk on only two feet, a small support base to stabilize our tall human frame. Our feet keep us grounded and stable. They are the foundation on which we move through life, whether we are standing, walking, hiking, snowboarding, running, etc. They keep us connected to help us understand ourselves and are, in fact, a reflection of our general health. Early symptoms of diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory problems are revealed initially in the feet. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once claimed; “When our feet hurt, we hurt all over.”
I hear this term “grounded” a lot in yoga class and I use it myself as a teacher. Does it mean that we have to ground, pulverize, and mince to get physically rooted through what’s connecting our feet to the ground? Or what about its other definition referring to the grounding a plane, prohibiting it to fly, or maybe it’s being grounded when you’ve behaved inappropriately… that kind of grounding? I don’t think so. However, the reality is, in any type of grounding you are staying put or present, getting rooted, and reflecting. I crave grounding yoga practices, in order “to be,” to feel, to be aware, and to be still. The word grounded is eloquently used in yoga as an earthy solid, comforting, and nurturing place to land. As Wiki says, “grounded is to be mentally and emotionally stable, admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious, and well-balanced.” With the demands of our lifestyle we might feel a lack of connection through our feet, physically, or feel stuck in the muck of the overwhelming commotion that life delivers sometimes, mentally. Being grounded sounds like a solid solution to find balance.
Where and when you feel grounded might be totally different from where I discover the experience of being grounded. I find it in the ocean, in the mountains, and on my yoga mat. I feel grounded right down to my toes by doing a solid, powerful yoga practice of slowing down, breathing, and connecting down through my legs and feet. Keep your foundation strong, and the frame of your skeleton will follow along with your mind.
Take your Fitbit for a walk and aim for 10,000 steps a day, that’s close to five miles. An average human who lives to be 80 years old will walk almost 115,000 miles in a lifetime. That’s about four times around the planet!
Take a load off. Put your feet up. Get a foot in the door. Take care of your feet! That might mean resting them or activating them by finding a resilient base of support by spreading out your toes. Or it might mean practicing equal weight distribution while you are standing because your feet affect your entire posture and your journey in life.
Make some footprints in the sand.
Amanda Kriebel DPT, E-RYT