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Tag Archives: bunion

(If you’re missing some context, the story starts here.)

Session Two changed my life. I fell in love with Rolfing during Session One, but Session Two was when I first realized we should probably move in together; you know, take things to the next level. I’ll never forget that feeling, when my first Rolfer asked me to sit up toward the end of the session. She wanted me to walk, so she could asses the progress, see what else needed to be done before closing the session. I sat on the edge of the table, feet on the floor, staring down in disbelief. Those were not my feet. I mean, I knew what my feet looked like. Not just as a human, who generally knows what her feet look like, but as someone who had a not-very-great relationship with feet in general and her own feet in particular. I hated my feet. I hated all feet, actually. They were weird-looking. And smelly. And sweaty. And just generally gross. Feet, ew. And when I was 20 years old, my right foot swelled up overnight for no apparent reason and never went back to being its normal self. It had been a source of shame and frustration ever since. I had wanted to pretend my feet didn’t exist for most of my life. But because I hated my feet, I was also obsessed with my feet. Comparing them to each other. Comparing them to other people’s feet. Getting mad at them for not being like other people’s feet. You know how it goes. So, I knew well what my feet looked like. And as I sat there on the edge of the table, staring at the place between my ankles and the floor, I knew, those were not my feet.

It’s true, this makes no sense. I hadn’t had surgery during the session. I hadn’t lost consciousness (at least, not for long). There were no wounds. And I didn’t think I was in some bizarre magic land where body parts were randomly swapped out. But still. Those feet at the ends of my legs were not the feet I knew and hated. They looked…different. I can’t say how, exactly. They just didn’t look like mine, even though the nail polish on those toes was exactly the same color as the nail polish had been on my toes an hour earlier. My brain was seriously struggling for a minute, but my Rolfer was waiting for me to stand up and walk and I didn’t want to say out loud the crazy thought that was running through my head, so I just stood up.

And my world changed.

Oh. So this was what feet were supposed to feel like. I had no idea. It was like I had great big lion’s paws down there at the ends of my legs. Soft and strong and supple. This was what standing was supposed to feel like. I’d never done it this way before. Balanced and comfortable and easy. And then I started walking. Whoa. It was like I was on wheels it was so smooth and effortless. This was better than that poor approximation of walking I had done before. Better by far. Those feet may not have looked like mine, but I was keeping them. No way in hell was I giving those feet back. I loved those feet.

How did I not understand before how amazing feet were? 26 bones, 33 joints, practically infinite possibilities.

Session Two, in case it isn’t obvious by now, is dedicated to the lower legs and feet. The one and only (but very challenging) goal is “functional, bilateral support.” Questions to think about (as the Rolfer, or for you at home) include things like: Which leg is it easier to stand on? Does the weight transmit (in each leg) through the medial (inside) aspect of the foot or the lateral (outside) aspect of the foot? When doing a knee bend, do the knees move straight forward and straight back (or point out, or point in, or wobble, or move in different ways)? Are all three arches (yes, three!) of the foot responsive to loading and unloading?

Since that day, 7 1/2 years ago when I first received Session Two, I have fallen deeply in love with feet. Not in that way. Geeze. I just love working with feet and I continue to love my feet. I think they’re fascinating. The way the bones are formed into those three arches, all by muscles and fascia, both within the foot and throughout the lower leg. The way the foot and ankle respond to the slightest changes in surface while standing, walking, and running. How we mess up all of this beautifully intricate and genius ability with shoes. How we think that point and flex (and maybe pronate and supinate) are the only options. How it’s so hard to explain that what happens in the foot is reflected in the pelvis. There’s just so much to know when it comes to the feet.

It’s interesting. When I went through my first 10-series, any pain or tension I had was always in my shoulders, neck, and upper back. I found those sessions (2, 4, and 6) focusing on the lower body a little aggravating. When were we going to get to the good stuff?! But I think all those lower body sessions were the ones that ended up making the biggest difference in clearing up my shoulder, neck, and upper back pain. See, my feet weren’t supporting my legs, which therefore weren’t supporting my pelvis, which obviously couldn’t support my ribcage, which couldn’t support my shoulder girdle, and so on. Once I got my feet under my legs, my legs under my pelvis, and my pelvis under my ribcage, all my upper-body pain started to fade. Which meant that all those lower-body sessions I thought were a waste of time ended up being the most dramatic when I stood up from the table. And the ones I was looking forward to the most, the upper-body sessions, while still cool, had a subtler effect.

This time through the 10-series, I’m having the opposite experience (so far). I was blown away by One. And while Session Two felt good, it was small, gentle differences I noticed afterwards. While thinking about why this might be, I realized how differently I treat my feet now versus 8 years ago. Because I was so uncomfortable with my feet, I was always hiding them away. I wore shoes always. And heels. Lots of high heels. I never went barefoot outside of the house. Now, I’m a huge proponent of being barefoot and wearing minimalist footwear. I own one last pair of heels and I think I wore them once (maybe twice) in the last year. I walk barefoot whenever I can, despite the weird looks I get. I wear minimalist (zero rise, flexible soled, wide toe-box) shoes whenever I can. So the way I’m living is supporting healthy, flexible, highly functioning feet, all day, every day. It shouldn’t be surprising that I don’t need a big, dramatic Session Two anymore. A little fine-tuning, some minor adjustments, sure; but the big work has already been done. Huzzah!

But don’t you worry, Session Two, you will always hold a special place in my heart.

We could get into exactly what a bunion is and how they’re formed, but how about we just summarize, huh?

Your feet are a great way to get information: Am I standing on level ground or a hill?  Is it soft or hard?  Bumpy or flat?  Your feet inform how the rest of your body positions itself in order to stay upright and your eyes seeing as much as they can (to get the most food or stay away from predators back in the day).  So, the more contact your feet can have with the ground, the better.  If you lived your entire life barefoot, your feet would look something like this:

Look at those toes!  They’re all spread out, just grabbing whatever info they can!

In this country, though, we have this nasty little habit called ‘shoes.’  When you wear shoes, especially of the pointy-toed variety… your toes can’t grab a whole lot of info.  In fact, they get very squished.  It’s as if they’re being buried alive in gorgeous coffins.  Yes, it’s very scary and very sad, even if those shoes are just sooo cute and make your legs look amazing.  And then, there’s a lot of jargon about sesamoid bones and ligaments and tendons and plantar fascia, which I find interesting, but is probably TMI and you get a bunion.  Eek!  Once you have a bunion, there’s no easy fix, unfortunately.

 

First of all, prevention.  Take your pointy-toed shoes off!!  Don’t get me wrong; I have and wear shoes.  I even wear pointy-toed heels once in a while.  But I’m barefoot whenever I can be (around the house, at work, and in the car, but that’s illegal, so don’t tell anyone).  And I have those funny looking ‘toe-shoes’ that I wear all summer long, and when I run (on a treadmill or a path) or when I hike.  This is what I advise for you as well.  If you can’t be barefoot at work, try to get wide shoes with as little heel as possible.  Try to feel the ground as much as possible.  Wiggle those toes when you get a chance.  Spread them out while you’re lying in bed.   Stretch them wide!

Other options include surgery, Rolfing, and spacers, among other things.  The least intrusive is simply wearing a spacer between your toes.  I’m sure you can buy fancy spacers, but you could also use a small piece of foam or a wad of toilet paper between your first and second toes.  Rolfing can help restructure your feet, but it’s a long, slow process that is often painful.  Just being honest here.  Surgery, from what I hear, is painful and a long healing process as well.  So, yeah, I’d be happy to help, if you really want to work on fixing that bunion.  But if possible, it’s better to avoid getting one in the first place.

More questions about bunions, or feet, or what I can and cannot work on?  Send them my way!  I love hearing from you!