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While your days of barefoot tree climbing, beach combing, and general outdoor adventuring may have declined over the years, summer still represents a time when many of us dare to bare our feet slightly more often than, say, the dead of winter. This is great news for the skin on our feet, which needs to breathe, and it’s often even better for the complex configuration of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Why? Going barefoot requires our feet and ankles to move with more range and nuance than is possible when they’re encased in shoes. Those demands wake up the muscles, strengthening them (and warding off muscle imbalance issues, like ankle sprains) and improving balance.

You can test your foot mobility, in a basic way, by just wiggling your bare foot around. Are you able to dynamically move and fan your toes and point in all directions, or does your foot behave more like a solid, sturdy flipper? Imagine if you had to wear a shoe on your back for months on end—wouldn’t your back lose some of its mobility too?

The question is what can we do to maintain healthy, mobile feet year round? Below are three foot-friendly suggestions.

Tip #1: Roll it Out

The soma system® Myofascial Five Pack is ideal for improving foot mobility because you can experiment with a variety of sizes and densities until you find the perfect fit. If you don’t have the five pack, you can substitute in a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or even a golf ball. Be cautious with the amount of pressure you use, and avoid rolling near the heel if you have heel spurs. Check out the video above to get started.

Tip #2: Stretch Your Sole with a Toes Pose

Foot-Yoga-Women-Walk-Tall-PainToes pose is an intense but cathartic yin yoga posture that refreshes the fascia along the sole of the foot. To begin: Sit on your heels with the feet together. Tuck all of your  toes under and try to position your weight on the balls of the feet, not the tippy-toes. Reach down and tuck the little toes under. Ease into this pose slowly and practice holding it for a few seconds at first, gradually working your way up to a few minutes. Learn more about toes pose here.

Tip #3: Try the Toothbrush Balancing Act

Another great way to enhance stability is to practice balancing. Every time my friend’s mother brushes her teeth, she throws in some balance work by standing in tree pose (vrksasana) while she brushes. One minute on each side is good for your balance, and great for your teeth.

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