Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Barefoot Strength Training-Beginning Basics

A common misconception is the idea that you can't strengthen your feet. Even some medical doctors will say "don't go barefoot"; but then again, how else could they sell you orthotics and make you dependent on them forever? But this post wasn't written to bash any members of the medical community.

It was written to tell you that it is indeed possible to strengthen your feet, and to show you an effective, basic technique derived from Yoga that takes only minutes a day.

On a standard Yoga mat, get into Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Plant your feet hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart. Neck is aligned with straight spine and flat back with head between arms and heels pressing toward the ground and balls of the feet firmly planted and hands pushing into mat with fingers spread out.

Basic downward dog pose.
When comfortable in downward dog, prepare for "Dog Walk". You will start by simply "walking in place" on the balls of your feet. One foot up, one foot down. Continue the rhythm, breathing in sync with foot movements.

Left foot up, inhale. Ball of left foot is planted firmly as left heel is raised; the whole foot is working, with all muscles engaged. The right foot is planted. You'll feel a stretch in the right hamstring. Exhale and switch feet.
Left foot down, right foot up, inhale. Ball of right foot is planted firmly as right heel is raised; the whole foot is working, with all muscles engaged. The left foot is planted. You'll feel a stretch in the left hamstring. Exhale and switch feet.
Continue the walking rhythm for at least 20 seconds. Build up to where going for a full minute is comfortable. It is better to go slower to allow your breathing to be in sync with your movements. This connection should be fluid and natural.
Always maintain balance. The pose should be steady and comfortable. You should not have to struggle or strain at any time. Modify your stance if you experience pain or instability at any time.
As your balance improves during the exercise, you can pause immediately after raising the heel and work on gently pushing the ball of the raised foot into the mat and allowing it to bear a bit more weight.
Disclaimer: as with any exercise program, check with your doctor and be aware of any health conditions you may have. Almost Barefoot and its writers make no specific claims and is not responsible for injuries incurred. You assume sole responsibility for your actions and engage in this and any other exercise program at your own risk.


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