Are you sick of sore feet? The aches and pains caused by weak or fallen arches become less easy to ignore as we age. Try our simple asana tips to soothe your soles. No arch support required.
Our cultural epidemic of weak and fallen arches provides a sure and steady income to the orthotics industry. But many of us still suffer from aches and pains that arch supports and padded insoles can't quite eradicate. For instance, when you first hop out of bed in the morning, do you get a rude awakening from sore feet and tight calves? This is just one kind of soreness from chronic strain to a muscle whose job is to help lift the inner arch of your foot. Fallen arches can result in tendonitis and contribute to the development of bunions, shin splints, and pains in the knees and hips - and can even affect the lower back, neck, and shoulders.
To begin, step the feet wide apart and parallel. Avoid the common tendency to turn your feet out too much, which tightens the lower back and limits mobility in the pose. With a microbend in your knees (to avoid locking them), fold forward at the hip joints and, if possible, touch the floor with your fingers while maintaining a straight spine. Experienced practitioners can come into the ultimate expression of the pose, touching the crown of the head to the floor (making the necessary adjustments to the distance between the feet) with only a slight rounding of the spine.
Take a moment to look at your feet and knees in prasarita padottanasana. Are your arches collapsing and your knees turning inward — or are you turning your feet out to help you bend forward? In either case, reposition your feet so they point straight ahead, keeping an imaginary line from the middle of your ankle to your second toe parallel. While keeping your inner heels and the balls of your big toes firmly grounded, begin to lift the instep of both feet.
Draw the energy all the way from your inner arches through the inner knees and thighs so that your inner thigh muscles firm, lift, and press outward. Press your thighs apart as if you were sitting on a balloon that was inflating. At the same time, keep your upper inner thighs drawing back, so that your lower back does not round.
Your kneecaps should be in line with the second toe of each foot. Straighten your legs slowly and smoothly, maintaining the actions of these muscles; don't allow your knees to lock or turn inward, and don't let your lower back round. Firm and lift your lower belly just above the pubic bone, and you will be able to fold more deeply into the pose.