The Benefits of Realignment: Massage Therapy for Feet and Ankles
Your feet are your foundation for upright posture: Invest in massage therapy for your feet and ankles!
Very often someone will ask me: if I could only have one area of my own body worked on, which one would I choose? And more or less always, I respond that I would choose massage therapy for feet and ankles.
Surprised? So are most of the people who ask! But I can’t think of any part of my body that has worked harder than my feet and ankles. Stints in pointe shoes and training for marathons immediately come to mind as the biggest demands I’ve placed on them. But still, they support me as I walk at least 10,000 steps every day up and down the New York City streets.
But even if I’d never danced or run competitively, or walked as much as I do, my feet and ankles are still the foundation for the entire weight of my body. They absorb information from the ground so that the nervous system can create standing posture all the way up the skull. And if something is less optimal with your feet and ankles, your posture will change to compensate. Just imagine what would happen if there were a problem or weakness in the foundation of a building. Similarly, issues in the feet and ankles can lead to a cascade of dysfunctions throughout the body. Massage therapy for feet and ankles can create profound improvements in our posture and movement.
Feet and ankles are the linchpin of every step we take
As we strike our heel to the ground and roll weight forward onto our toes, our arch is supposed to collapse to absorb energy. Then, when our toe pushes into the ground to propel ourselves forward, the foot and ankle are designed to go rigid and spring back up. This helps transmit force from the ground back through the sole of the foot. And ready the foot to repeat the process all over again. This is what needs to happen for us to take a single step. Every joint in the human body is supposed to move to create shock absorption. Massage therapy for feet and ankles can help your body get back to this core movement.
Did you know that your feet have 33 joints and your ankles have three?!
Unfortunately, most of us swing our legs too far forward to take a step with our weight sitting behind the ankle. And end up striking very hard with our heel. This forces your front leg muscles to overwork to pull the rest of your body along with it. And creates excessive pressure on your heel, tension in your hamstrings, and tension in calf. It also reduces range of motion in the joints of your toes and metatarsals (long foot bones).
In order to roll your weight forward into the toes properly, your upper body should initiate a step by “falling” slightly forward. Then your front leg won’t have to work so hard to swing forward in response. And the weight of your body can load effectively over the entire foot instead of just the heel. As a result, the foot and ankle are able to roll through each joint, even the very small ones in the toes. Your foot will act as the spring it is designed to be 🙂
Since the foot and ankle play such a big role during gait, mobility in them is essential.
How is my foot and ankle mobility?
This is a question I ask myself every day. Unfortunately, my foot and ankle mobility take a daily hit since I need to be wearing shoes whenever I’m outside. We are designed to walk barefoot…but on grass, not on a city sidewalk made out of concrete. Shoes are essential to preventing injuries but they also limit the way our feet and ankles move.
More than 23,000 people per DAY in the United States, including athletes and nonathletes, require medical care for ankle sprains.
The trauma and resulting inflammation from a sprain leaves scar tissue around the foot and ankle that restricts movement. As someone who spent years chronically spraining my ankles, I try to be mindful of the effects those injuries still have on my movements now.
These are some of the specific issues I look for to let me know when I might need some massage therapy for feet and ankles to address what’s going on:
- I can’t squat to parallel
- I can’t keep my back straight when I deadlift
- My knees collapse inward toward the midline during any leg exercise
- I notice my feet and ankles collapse toward their outer edges when I put weight on them
- My feet turn out when I’m walking, running, squatting, or practicing yoga/Pilates
- I’m feeling stiff anywhere along the back side of my body — even all the way up to my neck! — when I bend forward to touch my toes
- My toes either lift up or grip the ground during any time I need balance
- I’m having a hard time with balance — either on one leg or both
If you are dealing with any of these issues, massage therapy for feet and ankles is an essential step in finding long term relief. The pain may show up in your back on neck, and it will certainly help to get massage therapy in those areas. However, if you want the relief to stick around for the long term, consider letting your massage therapist spend a whole session on your feet and ankles!
Feeling better from the ground up: Massage Therapy for feet and ankles is a game changer!
A skilled massage therapist like at Bodyworks DW can help mobilize the feet and ankles. They can also address adhesions of scar tissue. And relieve muscular tension in hard-working muscles like the ones in the calves that control foot and ankle movement. This can do wonders for quality of movement, performance, and overall well-being. If you’re interested in unlocking your full potential, schedule a massage therapy for feet and ankles session at either or our medical massage New York locations!