This article is a continuation of Yoga for Healthy Feet & Knees Part 1, and part of a series discussing the biomechanical connections between the feet, ankles, knees and hips and how they all impact knee health.
After you figure out your personal standing tendencies, the next step is to build strength and encourage balanced alignment in the feet. Thanks to our internal kinetic chain, strong, well aligned feet also help to build even strength in the thigh muscles and side knee ligaments, which in turn allows the knee joints to receive more balanced forces as you walk and stand.
Let’s begin our journey along the kinetic chain by taking a closer look at the arches of the soles of the feet.
There are three arches in the feet: the anterior transverse arch, the lateral longitudinal arch, and the medial longitudinal arch. See figure 1.
These three arches form a triangular base at the sole of the foot. One point of the triangle is positioned at the base of the big toe mound, one at the base of the little toe mound, and one at the center frontal heel. See figure 1. points A, B and C.
- Take a seat and look at the soles of your bare feet. Use your hands to find and feel the three points of the sole triangle.
- Now stand up tall with your feet about hip width apart. Preferably stand on a firm surface such as wood or tile for clear feedback.
- On one foot only, strongly and evenly press down through all three points. Don’t worry too much about the points being exact.
- Notice how that foot feels and trace the feeling up thorough the ankle and knee to the hip. Compare it with the other foot and leg, which have yet to be activated, and see if and how they feel different.
- Now repeat on the second foot.
- Tip 1: An alternative method is to press evenly down through the four corners of the foot: the big toe mound, the little toe mound, the inner heel and the outer heel. Try both methods to see which feels easier to you.
- Tip 2: To more clearly feel the triangle points or the four corners and to lift your foot arches, try curling all of your toes off of the floor. Notice what happens.
The above exercise helped you connect your feet actions to the other joints of your legs, as well as find and activate the arches on the soles of your feet. This next exercise is designed to work on strengthening the arches.
Take a look at figure 2. on the right. The talus bone is at the center. This central foot bone sits above the heel bone and beneath the shin. It’s an important bone that transmits the entire weight of the body into the foot and receives the lifting energy from the arches below.
- Stand up tall on a firm floor with your feet hip width apart.
- Press down strongly and evenly through the three triangle points of each foot.
- This time visualize pulling energy from the earth back up through the triangle points into the talus bone. It should feel like you’re creating a pyramid out of the thee base points and the talus bone.
- Now send that pyramid power up through the legs to the knees and hips, and on to the crown of the skull and beyond. Feel how this action lifts and vitalizes the whole body.
- Try this one more time in front of a mirror. See if you notice any visual changes in the alignment of the feet and leg bones and joints.
You are now ready to try the above exercises in all of your standing poses, with straight and bent legs. Of course, as soon as you step your feet wide for the triangle or warrior poses, or balance on one leg, it will be more challenging to keep the weight balanced evenly in your sole triangles and lift strongly thorough the pyramids. But with practice, staying balanced on the soles of your feet and harnessing your internal pyramid power will enable you to naturally align and integrate your feet and legs, and energize your entire body as you practice your yoga.
Happy practicing ♥
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