Yoga Rx Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Toe Mobility

15 min - Practice


Patricia guides us in a series of routines to bring greater relief, warmth, and energy into the toes. With the support of a chair, she shares techniques to spread and widen the toes, drawing attention to the relationship with our feet, legs, and pelvis. Your feet will feel more grounded, spacious, and happy.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair

About This Video

Nov 19, 2016
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(waves crashing) Hey there. Now that we're up and standing we're gonna do some work with the toes. And the toe work is to just bring some energy and warmth into the feet. So the first one I call toe splay. Splaying the toes.

So let's bring the right foot forward first, then turn the toes out so the toes are wider, farther apart than the heel. Lift the heel off of the floor and roll to the little toe side of the foot. So the heel is up and then you spin or pivot your foot one toe coming down at a time, toes spreading. Look down, you can see how your feet have spread out, your toes, now bring the left foot forward a little ways, heel comes off the floor, heel is in, toes are out, roll to the outside edge of your little toe and pivot around letting one toe come down at a time, and then the heel. Bring the right foot forward, there's the chair if you need it, you can put your hand on it.

As you bring the right foot forward you're coming up on the toes, off of the heel. You may not feel like the toes are coming down one at a time, but just thinking about it and pivoting and ending up so that all five toes are down, then the heel, you will be able to see that some spreading has happened. Then one more time in this direction, step forward a little bit with the left foot, heel in, toes out, on the little toe side of your foot, start spinning, and toes, imagine toes coming down one at a time, big toe last, and then the heel comes down. And then just stand with the feet in neutral again for a moment and feel your feet. They should feel very warm and spacious.

Then you're gonna do the opposite movement, step forward with the right foot, you're on the big toe side of the foot with the heel facing out now, and you're just gonna do the same maneuver but in the opposite direction, so big toe comes down and then all the others, and again, they may feel like they're coming down all at once but still you get some spreading action going. And then when you're standing on that foot to bring the other one forward, feel how much space you've got not just between the toes, but across what we call the ball of the foot, which is the area right behind the toes, in front of the arch. Second foot comes forward, heel is out, you're on the big toe side of the foot. Spin and splay your toes until all five toes are down, bring the heel down again. Feel how spread out that ball of the foot is, and then one more step forward with each foot, big toe side of the foot down, heel up, spin the foot, bringing the toes down one at a time if you can, feel...

how much spreading there is in the foot, and then one more time, with the left foot, big toe side of the foot down, after you've stepped forward. Spin, bring the toes down, then the heel comes down. Don't move the feet yet, you've just splayed them, feel the splay. (chuckles) Toe splaying, good. All right, and then let that go, and you might just want to shake 'em out a little bit.

And now I'm gonna turn and face the chair, so the chair can be used for support for this one, or not. With my fingertips on the top of the chair I'm gonna step my right foot back a little bit, not even the distance of a foot. But approximately that, and I'm stretching the bottoms of the toes as I lift my heel. I don't recommend if you have a bunion or arthritis in the big toe to raise the heel very high. So you raise the heel to your comfort level, and then you just feel like you're lifting up through the whole leg, up into the pelvis, and the whole spine, and you just stretch like that for a few moments.

And then leaning onto the chair, stretch the toes back, now you're on the toenail polish side of the foot. And same thing, you don't have to take much weight to the toes, you don't want to put a lot of weight on 'em especially if you have any arthritis or any little mischief going on in the toes. And again, there's almost this movement forward, you're pushing the thigh forward, pelvis forward, inhale, raise the arms up if you can, you could raise one arm up and hold onto the chair with the other, but this glorious sense of height and length in the body, coming all the way from the bottoms of the toes, and then step the foot forward, stand on both feet for a few moments, and feel the entire body, how that's affected from that stretch. And then you're gonna stretch, take your left foot back. If you're watching this as well as doing it you'll probably see that I can raise the heel higher on this side, 'cause my foot is more comfortable with it on this side.

So raising up and just standing here for a few moments, I'm actually firming the quad and the hamstring and the buttock as a way of drawing the energy up even as I push the feet into the ground a little bit, the toes. Just a few seconds is enough, and you hold it as long as feels good to you. And then you turn the toes under, to the toenail polish side of the foot down again, and in this one it's almost like you've Velcroed the foot to the floor, and there is this impetus, forward and up, which really goes up, into this just lovely feeling of length all along the whole body especially on the left side when the left foot is back. And exhale, bring the arms down, stand on both feet again. And feel into your whole body, it's quite remarkable.

Giving yourself a few moments to notice the results of these actions can encourage you to do them more often because it probably feels pretty good. Okay, so. Now we're gonna work with scrunching and lifting the toes. This is a good party trick. (chuckles) So you step forward a little bit with one foot, and you can have the chair to lean on if you like, I've got a windowsill behind me, that's helpful sometimes too.

I'm gonna lift all five toes of the front foot, and it's nice to look at them and see what's happening. Is it happening? Yes, and then I'm gonna put all toes down again and I'm gonna scrunch 'em, pulling them a little bit forward although I'm trying not to, almost like I'm picking something up, so the toe can come back towards the arch, and the arch shortens, then all the toes are down again, and I'm gonna lift just the big toe if I can. And then big toe comes down, lift the four little toes, wow, four little toes come down, and then take a step forward. So there are four activities with this.

And those four activities are, lifting all five toes, press all five toes back down again, and then scrunch a little bit almost like you're picking something up. Third one, lay the toes down again, and either lift the big toe or the little toes. Right now I'm lifting the smaller toes, pressing the big toe down, and the fourth activity is to lift now the big toe, leaving the other four toes down. Okay, so you can do a number of times of this, holding onto something if you like, and the second version of this is to do it like you're on a tightrope, so I call this tightrope stance, which is where you step forward and you place the heel of the front foot just a little bit in front of the second toe. You can even touch the second toe of the back foot.

And then the four activities again. Lift all five toes, lay all five toes back down again, try to include not just the padded part of the toe, but the between part where, can the toe be completely flat, then scrunch it a little bit, shortening the arch, then lengthen the arch and the toes again. Let's lift the big toe, leaving the four little toes down. Big toe down, four little toes up. And then all toes down again.

I will tell you that for the first two weeks that I was trying to do this, I was learning how to do this, I did have my hand on a wall next to me. I was able to start using less, so we're lifting all five toes, pressing all five toes down, I became less and less dependent on the wall. See if you can lay the entire toe down. Then you scrunch the toes, the ball of the foot comes up off the floor and the arch shortens, and then splay, lengthen the toes out, lay them down again, and then you're gonna lift the big toe only, lay the big toe down, little toes up, and lay all the toes down again. Take one more step forward with the right foot, using the chair if you need to.

Lift all five toes, spreading them if you can, lay them down, the entire toe, scrunch, so that the arch shortens, ball of the foot lifts, spread, lengthen the toes as you lay them down again. Now you're lifting the big toe. Sometimes you have to stare at it to get it to lift. It will, and then lay it down again, lift the other toes, and then lay all of those down. We'll do one more with the left foot.

Tightrope, it's like you're on a tightrope. Okay, lift all five toes. Lay all five toes down, the entire toe. Then scrunch and pull the toes towards the heel. Lengthen the foot, spread the toes as you lay them back down and then see if you can lift the big toe with the little toe staying down, and then...

all four toes with the big toe staying down, and then all five feet down. All five toes down. And this is something that you can do going backward, just if you have a short space to walk in, you can go backward and do the same exercise always with the front foot, if you have a long hallway, you can have your hand trailing on the hallway. Sometimes on the wall, sometimes off, as you do this. This is so helpful for smoothing out your gait and getting the parts of your body that keep you in balance, bringing them some strength as well as opening the feet.

And as you stand, then for a few moments, again, feel the spaciousness, the warmth in your feet. Thank you so much.


Sheida M
1 person likes this.
I loved your feet practice sessions at previous shows and again you have new ideas .Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us .
Patricia Sullivan
So happy you found more good stuff in this latest foot and toe mobility video. Always a pleasure to share, and to find it's of use to people. Love
Haley M
Mmmmm what a lovely way to wake up my tired feet this morning! I am ready to chase after the kiddies the now! Thank you Patricia Sullivan !
Patricia Sullivan
Haley, I'm happy to learn you found renewed energy from practicing with the toe mobility video. So much fun. Hope you had fun with the kids that morning!
Christel B
1 person likes this.
My feet have a little arthritis going on so I think this will be very good for them. It's a bit challenging to just lift the big toe but like you said they will and they did. Yes, it feels really good to stretch those toes out. Thank you for these effective practices.
Patricia Sullivan
Yes, baby steps. Pardon the pun. Your feet will get stronger with the effort and more circulation will help ease the stiffness. Take care and keep loving and thanking your body for doing the best it can. xoxo P
Christel B
1 person likes this.
So great to get a response even though this video is from a while back.:>)
Patricia Sullivan
Yes, it is from a while back, but Yoga Anytime sends comments to me and I like to respond. Feel free to be in touch anytime Patricia Sullivan
1 person likes this.
I absolutely adore this practice! What fun! Bringing such close attention to our dear feet - an area most people have forgotten all about and maybe take completely for granted (?) - is really good fun and very challenging. Excellent - thank you so much!
Patricia Sullivan
I love your phrase "our dear feet"! Aren't they just total troopers? Silly pun, I know. Fun and challenging is a great combination and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the session to the point of adoration. Thank you for your comment! Love, Patricia

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