In the Pacific Northwest, every season offers opportunities to get on your feet and enjoy the bounty of nature that surrounds us – even if it’s cruising around Greenlake or walking to your favorite pedicurist for a little pampering. But have you ever thought about how your feet support you? As much work as they do, you might take the time to tune into your arches.
In architecture, arches are the structures that support what is above. In the same way, arches of the feet are the foundation that supports what is above.
Feet are the base of everything as long as you are standing. Think of your feet as a car, as your vehicle of locomotion, and your arches as shock absorbers. If your feet were a car, your car would have four tires. The four tires would be under the ball of the big toe, under the ball of little toe, on the inside of the heel, and on the outside of the heel.
To feel this, stand and imagine those four tires under your feet. Now begin to rock from side to side and forward and back. Notice if the air in your tires is even. Now stand and rock forward and back, and then side to side. Stop when you feel that you are in the middle of your feet and in between your feet. Pay attention to each foot.
Is the air in the tires of each foot equal? Are your feet falling in more in one direction or the other? Can you identify the tire or tires that have less air?
Next lift all your toes up, keeping the balls of the toes down. Look at the arches of your feet. The arches of the feet go from the ball of the big toe to the inner heel and from the ball of the little toe to the outer heel. These are called the longitudinal arches. The other pair of arches go from the inner part of the foot to the outer part of the foot: these are your transverse arches. Feel how when you lift the toes up from the ground you are engaging the front of your lower legs. To feel the difference, relax your toes. Notice how your arches deflate a little bit and how the muscles of the front of the legs relax.
Scrunch your toes under and notice how the arches of the feet appear again. When you scrunch your toes, do you notice how the back of the leg muscles engage? Relax your toes again. Do you feel the difference?
Your arches are created by the tone of the muscles in the front and the back of the lower leg. One of the ways that you can bring more air in your tires is to engage the toes by either lifting them a little or scrunching them a little until you feel that you have a sense of how those arches are in place by inflating the air in the tires.
Next relax your feet completely. Without moving your toes, as if you were a car with perfect wheel alignment, can you inflate the air in all of your tires equally by lifting your arches?
The reason why you want to have arches in your feet is because your arches are the shock absorbers. Just like in a car, if you do not have shock absorbers, you will feel every little bump. The arches are the lowest shock absorber in the body.