Slide hips over heels
Feet root down and spine lifts up
Soft eyes, free belly.
I wrote a haiku on standing in December that was a little different than the one above. Earlier versions included “untuck your butt” or “stick out your butt”. My attention has been on standing, sitting, walking and moving in general. I’ve been reading and exploring biomechanics and alignment of the body. Some changes I’ve been exploring are very subtle, but the affects of the small adjustments and focus of awareness on the alignment of feet, legs, spine have been shifting the way I stand and walk as well as reducing the number of times my hip makes a snapping noise during yoga class. I have been reading some of Katy Bowman’s books and blog, Nutritious Movement and listening to her podcasts for a while now, and I like her style, her whole body approach, her sense of humour, her clarity and her disciplined good enough authenticity that shows in pictures and videos with real life going on in the background (nursing stains on t-shirts, a lived in looking house, kids running around) as she guides movement exercises or explains alignment.
One of my favourite things I learned was what she calls foot schmear.
Got Schmear? If you’ve got a lot of foot mass on the sides of your feet, it’s probably the what’s-supposed-to-be-the- bottom of your foot you’re looking at, schmeared via your gait pattern. The solution: Counter-schmear, of course. Which you can create through external rotation (hip strengthening) done with your feet on the ground.
It’s not a new idea to me that “flat feet” are changeable, but putting it into perspective of the whole body this one more time, has made it make sense for me. The connection between the floor, the foot, the ankle the shins the thigh rotation to the outer hips hit home for me. It makes the connection between cues like “lift the arches”, “roll the outer calves back”, “shins forward” and “compact the hips” all tie together. These external rotation actions balance the internal rotation action at the top of the thighs that takes the thighs back under the pelvis. Her book “Whole Body Barefoot” includes a program to help strengthen and prepare feet and legs on up to transition to minimalist footwear. Most of the foot exercises were familiar to me, like rolling on a tennis ball and interlacing fingers and toes. The alignment of the knee pits was a new way to look at things as well as the deceptively easy looking pelvic list (standing on one leg).
I was also inspired to try making some alignment socks – a passive way to stretch the muscles of the foot. I didn’t make these up. You can buy them, here, but I’m
My daughter noticed me wearing these in the kitchen and with her eyes bugging out of her head, she said,”MOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Then she realized, “Oh, you’re just doing stuff for your toes. I thought you were doing some yoga fashion thing.” Only wear these around the house and not around the fashion sensitive. Listen to any messages from your body that you’ve had them on long enough.