When it comes to running and fitness, very few people stop and think about the two most important tools: your feet. They contain 52 bones, 66 joints, 40 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons, and ligaments—collectively forming two of the body’s most beautifully efficient mechanisms. It’s about time that we got to know them!
LOOK: Take off your shoes and socks. Take a good look at your feet. Become familiar with the shape and condition of the feet. This will help you understand and identify the changes that will take place as you transition to moving and running in FiveFingers®.
TOUCH: Massage is one of the best ways to stimulate the nerves and muscles of the feet—and it feels good, too! Try these exercises sitting down and barefoot.
• Run your fingers between your toes – push back and forth, twisting your hand a little.
• Use your elbow to rub the entire base of the foot
• Use your hand to push toes back and forth creating a gentle stretch
• Administer gentle pressure with your thumbs, moving towards your toes. Feel/tweak your tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue
FEEL: Feet are excellent at collecting information. Thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain to tell your body where it is in space and what the terrain is like. Actively stimulating these receptors improves balance, increases circulation, and enhances overall foot health.
· After practicing these exercises, notice how your entire foot feels. Remember these sensations the next time you practice self-massage and when you begin to move and run in Vibram FiveFingers®.
· Walk on different surfaces, With bare feet or in Vibram FiveFingers®, explore your home and its surroundings. Notice how your feet feel on smooth vs. rough surfaces and try to sense/recognize the signals that your feet send to your brain.
You’ll probably notice that your foot strike and stride instinctively adjust to different surfaces. Experiment in a safe, controlled way on grass, carpeting, pavement, dirt, pebbles, and smooth rock—keeping your eyes open for potential hazards or unfriendly objects.
You can explore a more comprehensive sensory/strength exercise program through Sole Training with Vibram's Fitness Advisor Stacey Lei Krauss.