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One of my favorite topics when I teach wellness workshops is feet. I encourage my clients and students to give their feet some attention — to help with calming and grounding at the end of the day, to help support a good night’s sleep, and to help address issues of discomfort in the legs and lower back.
I came across a short NPR piece called How to Keep Your Feet Happy, which talks about a common foot ailment, plantar fasciitis. It provides advice on the best kind of shoes to wear — they should have a minimum of support — and an audio slideshow with exercises to strengthen and stretch feet presented by podiatrist-turned-Pilates instructor Colleen Schwartz.
And here are two of my previous posts with stretches for feet:
What are those things?!?!? They are toe stretchers. They help stretch out toes that are cramped together, and help release and relieve sore feet and ankles.
I’m writing about this today because I’ve recently had healthy toes and toe stretchers on my mind.
- WEAK ANKLE: The ankle I fractured last year still bothers me occasionally, and my first reaction is to spread my toes (on both feet). Why do I do this? Because I feel great when I spread my toes: I take a nice deep breath, my feet feel more relaxed, my ankle feels better… and I actually feel good all the way up my legs to my back. Toe stretchers would allow me to spread my toes–and get the benefits–without effort.
- BUNION: I asked my mom about her problem ankle. She showed me her feet, and lo and behold, the big toe on the foot with the problem ankle turns in; she’s starting to get a bunion. The toes on the other foot, however, are lined up nicely, and she doesn’t have any ankle problems on that side. I think toe stretchers would help her toes align better, which will stablize her foot and strengthen her ankle.
- PLANTAR FASCIITIS: A student in a wellness class asked about addressing plantar fasciitis. I think toe stretchers can help address this. (Also, rolling your feet over a tennis ball can help relieve some pain, too.)
I have to say that I personally have not used these, though I’ve tried them on once and they felt great. You can read the account an MD has written about her decision to try them to prevent stiff feet, and how they beat her trip to the orthopedist.
They are available in several brands, which look pretty similar: Yoga Toes (which you can only buy on their website), Healthytoes (which is available on Amazon and less expensive than Yoga Toes) and Genki-Kun (which claims to be the original from Japan; their sizing is confusing).
- SMALL fits Women’s shoe sizes: 5.5 to 10.5; Men’s shoe sizes: 3.5 to 9.5
- LARGE fits Women’s shoe sizes: 11 and up; Men’s shoe sizes: 7.5 to 10+
(SIZING TIPS: Sizing is approximate and may vary according to width of foot. The majority of Women with medium-width feet will wear a size Small. 99% of Women new to toe stretching should order the size Small. — From the Healthytoes website.)
Genki-Kun products are available, too, but their sizing is confusing.
Yoga Toes sells directly; more expensive individually, but there’s a discount on volume.