Foot hold: Under ankles
This is probably the simplest way of orienting to the feet. Sitting at the foot end just slide your hands under the ankles.
It is also a very common way to start a session. The motion of primary respiration is amplified at the end of the legs, a small movement at the sacrum can feel much bigger from the feet. This hold is very useful for orienting to fascia and creating safety from the relative neutrality of the feet.
Foot hold: Over ankles
Foot hold: Ankle
Ankle and foot joints
Over pronation of the feet is the pattern in more than 9 out of 10 people. As the arches flatten and roll in, the feet, due to the nature of the arches, will also flare outwards (think Charlie Chaplin). This tends to happen more on one side than the other, it is a very easy pattern to spot if you start looking at feet. The pelvis on the side of the more turned out (overpronated) foot, will tend to rotate anteriorly and drop inferior. The alignment of the feet is therefore essential for the whole posture.
Ankle and foot anatomy
The tibia and fibula and the tarsal bones are the interesting bones of the lower leg. There are seven tarsals, of these it is particularly worth getting to know the talus, the navicular, the cuboid and the calcaneus (heel bone). The talus articulates with the distal tibia and fibula.
The gastrocnemius and the soleus are big flexor muscles that lift the heel, and they are often very tight. Activation of the calf muscles stimulates the adrenal glands in a study on cats.
The anterior tibialis, running down the front of the shin is often spectacularly tight. It draws the foot towards the head (extension or dorsiflexion of the foot)
There are a bunch of smaller muscles that move the toes and control lateral movements of the foot.
The arches of the feet are maintained by ligaments. According to Charrette muscles only provide 25% of the support to maintain the arches of the feet. Most of the work is done by ligaments. A pessimistic belief about the recovery capabilities of ligaments (the plastic deformation model argues that once overstretched it is very hard to get elastic tone back in a ligament) states that once we have dropped arches then they will always be dropped.
Painful inflammatory foot conditions are surprisingly common. The general points about treating joints all apply.
A specific intention is to explore the position of the cuboid bone, the lateral border is often superiorly rotated, particularly in inversion strains of the ankle (rolling over the outside of the ankle). The connective tissues over the cuboid will often feel puffy and swollen in this case.
Exploring space in the relationships between the talus and the tibia and fibula, and between the talus and the navicular can be very helpful.
- King, S. (2008) Live Without Pain. Cheltenham: Naturality Press.
- Charrette, M. (2005) Charrette Extremity Adjusting Protocols. Lecture notes from Dr Mark Charrette DC.