Whether you’re an experienced yogi, casual drop-in, or total beginner, there are lots of things to love about practicing yoga.
Some of the most well-known benefits, of course, include relaxation and stress relief, improved flexibility and balance, better breathing, and more energy.
But did you know that yoga can be really good for your feet, too? It’s true!
While we wouldn’t necessarily prescribe yoga as a sole (pun intended) treatment for any specific foot condition, it is certainly true that incorporating yoga into your daily or weekly routine can help promote healthy feet, prevent foot and ankle injuries, and even help you recover faster from painful conditions.
Read on for a few cool foot-centric benefits of yoga.
Improved Circulation to the Feet
Blood is the primary conduit that your body uses to deliver oxygen and nutrients to needy cells, filter out and carry away cellular waste products, and fight infections—among other things. Making sure you have strong circulation throughout your body is therefore extremely important.
However, even under normal circumstances, your extremities don’t get the same level of blood flow as the core areas of your body. And if you’re overweight, have diabetes, or suffer from various other chronic diseases, the circulation to your feet may be even lower.
Yoga is a good—and also a very safe—way to get the blood pumping better to feet and toes. It improves circulatory health system-wide to help your cells get the nutrients they need more efficiently. And unlike high-impact exercise like running, the risk of accidental injury to compromised feet is extremely limited.
For these and other reasons, yoga can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy—particularly those at risk of foot wounds. As part of an overall commitment to healthy eatingand living, regular yoga can reduce your risk of developing chronic foot conditions, or at the very least reducing the pace that existing conditions progress.
However, people with open wounds or foot ulcers should refrain from yoga until consultation with a foot and ankle specialist.
Balance is a skill like any other. You can improve it with practice, but it’ll start to decline quickly if you don’t.
In other words? Use it or lose it!
Unfortunately, many people are doing the latter. In fact, one out of every four Americans over 65 will fall at least once this year. Those over 80 or 90 are at even higher risk.
And that’s really bad news, because sometimes it only takes one. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal injuries and hospitalizations among senior citizens. And many seniors never really full recover from a bad fall, beginning a downward spiral where less physical activity means even poorer balance, mobility, and independence.
At our office, we offer fall risk assessments and preventative care options to help you maintain your balance, including balance braces. But balance training and exercises is going to be a part of the overall treatment package in almost any circumstance, and yoga is a great option here—especially since you can go to a class where you’ll get social interaction and supervision from an instructor.
Increased Strength and Flexibility
Flexibility and strength in the feet and ankles are a lot more important than most people realize. (At least until they get hurt, that is.)
Strong and flexible ankles are critical for balance, which we’ve already talked about above. And it’s fairly obvious that you’ll get an athletic benefit as well. That’s not just important for actual athletes, but for any active person (or in other words, everyone).
And yoga, naturally, is a great way to help you improve that flexibility and strength. Many poses gently stretch the joints and engage stabilizing muscles. It doesn’t always feel like much work at the time, but trust us—your feet and ankles are getting a workout!
Relief from Pain
Let’s get a little more specific here.
There are a lot of painful foot conditions that feature soft tissues that have become tight and inflamed. Plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain, is a great example. Achilles tendinitisis another.
For most of these conditions, stretching the tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the calves, ankles, and feet is on the list of recommended home care treatments. Even conditions like osteoarthritiscan greatly benefit from stretching.
Yoga gives you a great opportunity to gently loosen and stretch your tired, sore, and inflamed soft tissues. And if you keep yoga as part of your regular routine after the pain is gone, and keep those tissues nice and limber, you might be able to prevent the next bout of pain before it happens.
Keep in mind, too, that foot pain doesn’t always stay in feet. Discomfort at the foundation of your body can change the way you stand and walk and force other parts of your body to work harder to compensate. As you “yoga away” your foot pain, you may also find pain in your knees, hips, and back fading away as well.
So what are you waiting for?! Roll out that yoga mat you have stashed away in the basement and get to it! Who knows—you might actually have some fun while you promote healthy feet and healthy mind!
Of course, as we said, while yoga can be great for promoting foot health, it’s not a comprehensive foot care strategy either. If your feet are hurting, make sure you give the team at Carmel Foot Specialists a call, too! We can step in with any additional active or preventative care options you may require.
To schedule with us, call (704) 334-8682 for our Myers Park location, or (704) 542-8253 for South Charlotte.