The Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless Foot

I now know ALL the muscles in the body.  Ha! I wish.  I mean, I think I’ve probably learned about all the muscles in the body, but I don’t remember them all.  Yet.  We just finished up learning about the lower body, all the way down to the feet.  I had no idea that feet are so complicated!!  As we learned in class, the complex nature of the feet makes them capable of amazing feets/feats (get it!!), but it also makes them prone to a variety of issues.  How many people do you know that have bunions or plantar fasciitis or heel spurs or hammer toes?  A lot of these issues are caused by misuse/abuse of the feet.  I’m going to try to provide a very high level overview of the feet and then show you what you can do to bring relief and increased awareness to the feet.  And before I forget to mention it, if you have any of these issues, neurosomatic therapy can help!!  I graduate in February, so come see me!!

Ok.  First of all.  Let’s look at the boney structure of the foot.  You have the big heel bone (aka calcaneus), on top of which sits the talus, which fits into an arch (aka mortise) made by your shin bone (aka tibia) and fibula (the bone that’s on the outside of your lower leg).  This forms the joint of the ankle.  Next you have an assortment of oddly shaped bones that fit together like puzzle pieces – the navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms.  Next you have the long skinny bones of your foot, the metatarsals, which connect to your toes, which are made up of phalanges.  Here is a picture to give you an overview:

These bones are held together by tons of ligaments (very strong connective tissue), and connecting with these bones are all the muscles of your lower leg and foot.  These ligaments and muscles maintain the two arches of your foot. Yes! There are two arches down there!  There is the longitudinal arch, which forms your instep.  And then there is the transverse arch, which goes horizontally across your foot.  These two arches work together to absorb force from the ground and transmit it up the body.

Man, I’m just getting started.  I really wanted to discuss the the muscles IN the foot too.  Did you know there are TWELVE of them (depending on how you count them) and FOUR separate layers of muscles?  Just bonkers. But we’ll have to discuss the bonkeriness in another post because this one is already getting too long.

Let’s get to the really fun stuff. What can you do if you have foot pain?  One easy thing to do is to get a small, soft ball (I recommend a Yoga Tune Up® ball, due to its squishy, pliable nature) and step on it.  Yep.  Just stepping on the ball will increase your awareness of your feet and start to dissolve tension between all those tiny joints.  Here is a video that will guide you through an eye-opening foot roll.

You can also increase awareness of your feet (and help bring energy down from that monkey mind into your feet, which is very grounding) by meditating on your feet.  Here is a 10 minute meditation that will guide you through that.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of your amazing feet now!  I hope you find some time to give your feet some love today.  Let me know what you think of the video and or meditation.

Have a great Sunday!



Adding Adductors to your Body Body of Knowledge

Yes.  I purposefully tried to make the title of this blog as confusing as possible.  Why?  Does it mean I’m not a good writer?  Does it mean I don’t care about the edification of my readers?  Does it mean my brain finds pleasure in confusing word play that takes a couple of moments to figure out?  Because, No, No, and Yes. 🙂

So, Adductors.  If you are like me, you probably have only ever heard of adductors as a glump of muscles that get “stretched” in wide-legged yoga poses like prasarita padattonasana (wide-legged forward fold). Before starting school at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS), I had only a vague notion of some muscles in my inner thigh that were super tight, and which did not allow me to do wide-legged poses without getting a cramp in my butt.  Thank you, CNS, for helping me understand with specificity what these muscles are.

Your adductors are made up of several different muscles that connect from the lower portion of your pelvis to the back side of the long bone of your thigh (the femur).  I realize the pelvis can be a bit of mystery as well, so here is brief overview of the points we need to know about.  The pubis is the bone on the front of your pelvis.  If you are like me, you often accidentally ram this into countertops/tables, and it hurts like a mother.

Directly underneath the pubis is the ischium.  Sit on your hands.  Go ahead – it’s okay.  Sit on your hands.  You feel those bones pressing into your hands?  Those are your ischiums (commonly called “sit bones”).  The pubis and the ischium are the superior (aka “upper” or “northern”) attachment points for the adductors, as you can see in the drawing below (which is a view of the pelvis from the front).  Disclaimer:  these are drawings I did quickly for my own personal study aids, so they are not 100% accurate.  They’ll give you a gist of the anatomy, however. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

The adductors are made up of the Pectineus, Adductor Longus, Gracilis, Adductor Brevis, and Adductor Magnus muscles.  You can see the specific attachment points in the illustration below. (Please note that my anatomy text led me astray in regards to the attachments of Gracilis and Adductor Longus.  They should actually be flipped).

From the pelvis, the adductors travel at an angle to connect to the back of the femur, as you can see in the illustration below.  I used to think that the back of the thigh was made up of just the hamstrings.  But there is a lot going on back there! All the adductors connect there, as well as many of the quadriceps.

Why are the adductors important?  For SO many reasons!  They have trigger points that can present as pain in the front and inside of the thigh and in the genitals and rectum.  They can cause the sacrum to tilt, which forms an uneven base for the spine, resulting in a functional scoliosis.  Also, the adductor magnus can pinch the greater saphenous nerve, causing the knee to collapse while walking.

At CNS we learn how to treat the adductors, which can relieve the symptoms described above.  But sometimes releasing a muscle is not what it needs. Sometimes it needs to be stronger.  Weak muscles can contribute to pain, just like over-active muscles can.  I love the Adductor Slides Yoga Tune Up® pose; it helps you tune in to your adductors and strengthen them in a fun and slightly excruciating way.  Here is a demo from Trina Altman.

Well, I hope you learned a little something about your body today. If you try the adductors slides, let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading today!





Teaching my first public class & a list of recommended reading

Last night I taught my first public class through Indigo, the studio where I am doing Yoga Teacher Training.  When we first started YTT, I honestly could not imagine myself teaching. It seemed completely overwhelming and nerve-racking.  All those eyes, looking at you,waiting for you to tell them what to do, trusting you to make them feel better and not hurt them, watching, waiting…  It seemed so intimidating.

And then we did our first adjustments to our fellow students – how could I get comfortable touching people I don’t even know???  And then we taught our first Sun Salutation to 5 other classmates.  I couldn’t even remember how to do a Sun Saluation.  Mind. Blank.  Then we took turns teaching ONE asana at a time to a group of beginner students.  I think my first pose was side plank.  Super easy asana, but Shannon had to give me little cues to get me started.  All that is to say, it was hard to imagine myself standing up in front of 15 people teaching a sequence of several asanas.

But I did it.

And it was awesome.

The class went really well!  I followed the template that I posted yesterday.  Overall the sequence flowed fairly well. I left out a couple of asanas in the interests of time.  I had 3 friends who attended the class, and I’m going to follow up with them today to see what they thought of the pacing, the volume of my voice, the clarity of my instructions, and the difficulty (or easiness!) of the class.  Immediately after the class a few students said thank you and that they thought it was a good class.  Hopefully they really felt that way!

I’m so glad that I entered this YTT program. I have learned so much, and it’s helped me to see that I am capable of more than I thought.  I haven’t reach my peak yet at 38. ;P

I think I promised a list of recommended reading from the Dubuque Yoga Conference, so here is that list.  Man, I wish I had more time to read!!!

And that’s it for this morning!  Thank you for reading today. If you read any of these books, or check out any of these resources, let me know what you think.  Have a great day!