Putting Your Best Foot Forward with Mindful Anatomy

After 20 years as a massage therapist I am still reminded on a regular basis that there is always something new to learn and discover. As a form and function therapist, you can imagine how many hours I have studied anatomy and kinesiology. I am happy to report that I am still having my premises challenged and refined. I recently had a concrete lesson in energetic Kinesiology and I want to share it with you.

Michele L. Neil DO is an expert in sports medicine and on being a lifelong athlete, so when she offered a workshop called Anatomy of Yoga, I jumped on the invite. Dr. Neil reviewed the basics of kinesiology and then zeroed in on the anatomy of the feet, primarily the relationship between arches and misalignment. I don’t know about you but I spend a lot of time studying and working on feet since they are the foundation of everything else.

The main thing I came away with and I want to share with you is the Concept of Triangle vs. Square Grounding. When we talk about the structural foundation of the foot we refer to the arch triangle which goes from the outer ball of the foot, the inner ball of the foot and the center of the heel. In mindful anatomy they also recognize an energetic foundation which is a square that goes from the outer ball of the foot, inner ball of the foot, and the medial and lateral points of the heel. Earlier this year Eric Dalton taught me the importance of arches and now Dr Neil has given me tools to support them.

Dr, Neil had us perform an exercise where you stand, raise yourself up on all toes, relax, dorsal flex all toes, dorsal flex just your big toes, relax, dorsal flex just the little toes, relax, dorsal flex just the three middle toes, and relax. Observe which of these actions are easier than others. This will help assess arch weaknesses and more importantly, with regular practice, help improve arch performance. Now I tried this exercise by just engaging the traditional triangle grounding and then again with the energetic square and I am here to tell you it was obvious that the square grounding was by far the superior preparation.

I challenge you to try this yourself and then share it with clients. I also challenge you to seek out opportunities to be exposed to different views and applications of your knowledge base. While you’re at it, don’t forget to also look for opportunities then share yours as well.

Be well, Do good work, and Write often.

P.S. Those of us who work with form and function are constantly dealing with AAA clients ( aging active adults) that want to jump right back into activities before their bodies are healed. Dr. Niel calls this “Stacking fitness on top of dysfunction”. It’s a perfect description and even my most driven clients are responding to the phrase.