It’s always interesting to me when I get a new Pilates client, and while doing Footwork, they ask me to “crank up the springs,” meaning, wanting more resistance so they can feel their legs more. Although, yes, you feel legs during this exercise, they aren’t the main focus. We are looking at your Feet! Well, not just the feet, but your alignment. But why so much attention to your toes, arches, heels and ankles? And why at the start of class? A few reasons include:
Your feet are your foundation! They hold you up…but are so often ignored. We stretch other muscles and correct alignment in other body parts; feet should be included.
One of the best things I learned was that feet are our (as in Pilates instructors) “fortune tellers,” according to Amy Taylor Alpers from The Pilates Center in Boulder. We can see what type of corrections we may need to make in relationship to the knees, hips/pelvis, femur bone, etc., during our session with a client.
On the Reformer, Footwork is done lying down, so the equipment helps set up the body for proper alignment, and we can more easily look at the foot in relation to the rest of the body…without having to correct so much in the shoulders, for instance, or even focusing on balance if one was standing.
And feet change over time! I know personally my feet have changed, particularly post pregnancy. I never really “felt” my feet, until post-delivery, when I discovered I had 1 collapsed arch, which was actually on the same side of a finicky hip…coincidence? I don’t think so! So Footwork is something I ALWAYS do at the studio! I know plenty of clients with knee problems, or even after a surgery feel a change in their feet, too.
So, maybe you can’t get into the studio to use the Reformer, but want to work on stretching and strengthening the feet? No problem! Here are a few exercises you can do. All you need is: a TOWEL, TENNIS BALL & something to hold onto, like a chair.
Standing Footwork (Stretches and Strengthens Feet & Works on Ankle Alignment) Check out the video below!
* Be sure to "roll" through the foot & keep your weight in the center of the ball of the foot.
Towel Pull (Great for Strengthening the Arches!)
Place a hand towel on the floor, and stand hip distance apart with one foot at the end of the towel
Drag your toes to pull the towel towards you, creating an bigger foot arch as you do so.
Continue until the towel is pulled all the way towards you.
Reverse this movement, pushing the towel away from you
Tennis Ball Massage
Place a tennis ball under the ball of the foot, massage the foot up and down, side to side, with the toes curled down.
Repeat this under the arches and heels.
Once the entire foot is massage, repeat all sections with the toes curled UP.