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  • Writer's picturealliemacs

What you really need to get in shape for summer

Shorts and flip flop season is upon us (well, yesterday was - today is raining). But as well all know here in the PNW, you need to be ready at all times for the sun to pop out and to bust out the shorts and flip flops (or the other way around - keep a raincoat in your car at all times). Nonetheless, summer marketing is in full swing and my guess is you're probably starting to see motivational quotes about getting in shape and workout routines pop into your feed - warning us that the countdown to bathing suit season is on. Just so we are clear, each one of us is perfectly ready to put our bathing suits at any moment - we are ready just as we are and worthy just as we are. We don't need to lose 5 more pounds, we don't need to tone our abs. Let's just make that clear. Instead of "getting in shape for summer" I'd rather put it as "conditioning our bodies for our summer activities". Not like, six pack abs and toned arms so you look good in your tanks and shorts, I'm talking about being able to go on a hike and not get winded, I'm talking about playing in the lake with your kids and not feeling like you're going to drown. More specifically today, I'm talking about walking around and your feet not killing you by the end of the day. Yes, I'm talking about your feet. Your arch health. Preparing your feet for sandal season. Dun Dun DUNNNN.

The floor was dirty in this room

A little backstory. My husband Josh LOVES flip flops. He will wear flip flops any chance he can get. Well - that's not true - he USED to wear them any chance he could get. All of a sudden last summer, his feet started to hurt. He no longer can wear flip flops all day, every day during the summer. (read to the bottom to find out what I think about flip-flops.) He has developed, what we think must be - plantar fasciitis. Now, there are different thoughts on how to heal plantar fasciitis, and there is a lot of controversy about insoles or barefoot living - I'm not going to get into that. I'm not a doctor in any way, shape or form and I have little experience with feet besides my own. But I will say, that if you get insoles, you should still be doing exercises to strengthen your feet IMO. Either way, our feet tend to be forgotten about. Considering how much work they do for us every damn day, they don't get proper attention or care. We stuff them in shoes and walk on them and don't think of them as a vital part of our body - until we do. Have you ever stubbed your toe or lost a toenail? Really quickly we remember how important our feet are!

Just like any other part of our body, it is important to keep our feet strong and take care of them. I'm not a pediatrist - I'm a yoga teacher. But here's a few ideas:

Strengthen + Stretch

You're probably wondering how to do this. Toe squat is a great one (see photo below). It looks easier than it is. Ideally, all 10 of your toes should be on the mat. My toe range of motion is just ehh, so my pinky toes don't touch the mat. That's ok. Think this looks easy? Give her a try and see how it is after a minute. For less sensation, you can always walk your hands forward on the mat. After this pose, untuck your toes, walk your hands forward and gently pat/bang the front of your ankles on the mat to counteract.

Then you can sit on your heels or in hero pose after toe squat. Unlike toe squat, sitting on my heals is eeeeasy for me. For Josh on the other hand, it's super difficult as his ankle mobility isn't the greatest. We are all made differently and it's ok - that's what makes us speecial:)

A great way to strengthen your arches is to simply bring awareness to them, especially in standing poses. In standing poses with both feet on the ground, try to lift your inner arch while still pressing all toes and your heel evenly into the mat. You may even feel the sensation go all the way up your inner leg if you pay attention. It's all connected!

Do you squeeze your toes into heels or shoes that are too tight for you? I usually only do for a few hours a few times a year, but man does it feel good to get them off! Our toes are not meant to be scrunched together like that. Another great thing to do is to sit in a butterfly position with the soles of your feet touching. Interlace opposite fingers with opposite toes and stay there for a few minutes. And at the same time, press the outer edge of your feet together and into the mat/floor. It feels so great to get those toes apart!

This next tip was given to me by my dear teacher Lauren Roegele. Pick up things with your toes! When she goes to the beach with her daughter, they pick up rocks with their toes and throw them in the water. Work those toes any way you can!

Last toe tip: next time you're in the bath or just chillin' try to individually move each toe without moving the others. I can move all my toes, even my right pinkie toe if I really try - but I can't move the left, which I have bad circulation in (hmmm).

Care for 'em

Give your ol' foot a massage. Have a husband? Have a partner? Have a friend? Have a kid? If you don't have any of these, and even if you do - a lacrosse or tennis ball is even better. Use the lacrosse ball to gently massage the bottom of your foot. It's heavenly. Or in my husbands situation, torturous. Just start out easy and very veeeery gradually increase pressure.

And don't stuff your toes into shoes that are too tight. This one is just kinda common sense but obviously not common sense enough to not do it. Like I said, I'm guilty too.

A tip from another one of my teacher's Anne Jones (also a massage therapist): When you're buying sandals, make sure you have a strap that goes up across your ankle. When we wear flip-flops, our feet have to work hard to pick up the straps and it isn't good or natural.

When Josh's feet are really bothering him, sometimes (when I really felt like being a good wife), I get a warm washcloth and wrap his feet with it and gently squeeze his feet and toes, giving him a little massage. He absolutely loves it. It actually made us think of the sacred ritual of washing feet from the Biblical times. It really is a lovely practice and the simplest, most meaningful ways to show love to someone. Try it sometime, even if you are just doing it to yourself - show your feet how much ya love 'em.

Peace XO, Allie

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