Imagery Exercises for the Arches of the Feet
This is an excerpt from Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery-3rd Edition by Eric N. Franklin.
Mediating talus (standing, walking, leaping): Imagine the talus to be the mediator for the tibia, calcaneus, and navicular. It efficiently manages all incoming and outgoing forces. Like a springy rubber ball with cushioning springs attached to it, the talus receives and distributes forces coming from both within and around it. To maintain elasticity, no one side of the ball may be subject to constant extremes of pressure (figure 11.75).
Foot as clay:
a. Rolling your clay foot: Imagine your foot to be a piece of clay. Roll it over a baseball or rubber ball and watch it spread in all directions. The heel spreads to the back and the metatarsals to the front and sides.
b. Perfecting your clay foot: As you point and flex your foot, visualize imaginary hands remodeling your clay foot to perfection.
Foot tripod (standing):
a. Spreading your base: Visualize the three contact points of the foot—the heel, the distal head of the first-toe metatarsal, and the distal head of the fifth-toe metatarsal—as a tripod. Distribute the weight evenly on these three points. Imagine them to be energy centers radiating into space. Imagine the points of the tripod forming a triangle. Watch them move away from each other into space, making an ever-larger triangle (figure 11.76).
b. Sci-fi tripod: Visualize the tripod of the foot. Imagine luminous energy originating at each corner of the tripod, merging at the apex of the vault and streaming up the center of your leg.
c. Dynamic tripod: Stand in a comfortable upright position, and focus on the tripods of both feet. Bend your legs, and imagine the three footprints of the tripod moving away from each other, spreading the sole of the foot and widening the tripod. Stretch your legs, and imagine the tripod becoming smaller, the footprints coming closer to each other. Repeat this action a few times. For comparison, you may try to bend and stretch your legs with a nondynamic tripod. You will notice that your legs are more rigid.
Wave underfoot: Imagine a geyser lifting the arches of the foot from underneath (figure 11.77).
Transverse arch lift: Visualize the transverse arch of the foot through the cuneiforms and navicular. Imagine the transverse arch lifting and lowering like a bird flapping its wings (figure 11.78). Every time you step on your foot, the bird’s wings flap upward as the arch widens; every time your foot lifts off the floor, the wings flap downward as the arch lifts and domes. Practice this image in walking to activate the transverse arch of your foot.
Plantar fascia as a tie-rod: Imagine the foot being a truss and a tie-rod, with the calcaneus and talus serving as the posterior strut and the anterior tarsals and the metatarsals being the anterior strut. The plantar fascia is the tie-rod. As you shift your weight onto one foot, imagine the plantar fascia tie-rod responding by stretching. As you shift your weight off of that foot, imagine the plantar fascia recoiling. Practice this image with both feet and notice any differences between the responses. Distribute your weight equally on both feet and bend and stretch both legs. Imagine both plantar fasciae stretching and recoiling equally. Imagine the tarsals being buoyed upward by the recoil of the plantar fasciae.
Bow and arrow:
a. Stand on both feet: Imagine your feet to be bows, with the bowstrings toward the floor. Shift your weight from one foot to the other and visualize the bow spreading and the bowstring becoming taut as you place your weight on it. Visualize the bow arching and the bowstring releasing as you take your weight off the foot (figure 11.79).
b. Foot as a bow with the bowstring toward the floor: In lower-limb flexion, notice the increasing tension in the string as the bow spreads. While maintaining lower-limb flexion, notice the decreasing tension in the string as the bow arches. Now imagine that spreading the bow initiates the downward movement. Finally, imagine the arching of the bow initiating the upward movement.
Three keystones (second position): Focus on the tali of both feet and the sacrum. Visualize these three keystones simultaneously. Imagine how all three keystones are buttressed equally from both sides. Note that the pelvic arch lies perpendicular to the long arches of the feet.
Foot dome (standing, feet touching in parallel position): The adjoining arches of the foot create a vaulted structure like a cupola or the Roman Pantheon (the oldest domed structure still intact today). The combined tripods of the feet create six major weight-bearing points for the body. There is a small opening between the feet, just in front of the medial anklebone. Imagine a waterspout shooting upward from the ground through the center of this cupola and continuing up between the legs. As the water falls back down, it pours down the outside of the foot, releasing the toes and outer rim of the foot into the ground (figure 11.80).
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