Sitting on the porch steps this morning eating breakfast, I noticed a dull ache in the arch of my foot the longer I it pressed into the edge of the step. Pain is always a message, an indication that something needs to shift, a reality check, a warning, a challenge, at times a desperate battle. But it is always telling you something. And this morning, it was telling me this hurts, but in a good way...keep doing it. So I did--I pressed into the upper arch near my big toe all the way down towards my heel. On both feet. And then I used my hands, focusing on the sore spots and putting pressure with my thumbs and my knuckles.
As I poked and dug into the sore spots on my feet, it brought back memories of walking down the pebble trail leading to the surf beach I used to frequent before I moved to Michigan. How much it hurt at first before my feet toughened up, and then how good it felt to walk on that bumpy hard surface. Foot reflexology!
Our feet have reflex points that correspond to our entire body system, including our organs, glands and muscles. Luckily, it's fairly easy to do on yourself. Here's a chart:
Going barefoot helps stretch and strengthen the muscles of the feet and legs. Ever notice how good it feels to take your shoes off at the end of the day, even when you've been wearing comfortable shoes? Even more so with heels or dress shoes that squish your toes together and constrict movement. While wearing shoes is necessary for many daily activities, they can actually contribute to pain in our knees and backs, especially if we have flat feet. An easy way to address the effects of flat feet is to sit in virasana on a daily basis. This pose stretches the ankles and feet and with dedicated practice will help reform your arches.
When I first heard about earthing, I thought it was a New Age joke. It struck me as funny that walking barefoot and being "grounded" had actually become a "thing." BUT, once I spent a little time reading the scientific explanation behind the theory, I started appreciating their work. The earth conducts energy, and anytime we make a physical connection to the earth, its energy runs through our bodies. That's partly why floating in the ocean feels so soothing (salt conducts electricity), or why walking on grass, sand or even warm concrete can feel so good (note: wood does not conduct electricity). Have you heard of inflammation and how it is the root of all disease? Or about how important it is to consume things like blueberries and green tea due to their high antioxidant level? Well, we can get that by walking barefoot. The earth transfers negatively-charged electrons into our bodies, neutralizing positively-charged free radicals, which are related to chronic inflammation. The earth is one giant anti-oxidant :) Studies have been done that show the effects of "grounding"/"earthing" on the nervous system, linking it to lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels, reduced pain levels, and better sleep. Here's to spending some of the summer season with our toes in the soil and our soles/souls happy.