This is it for the first round of the foot series. I have enjoyed sharing the information I have gathered, most of the time the hard way, through my life experiences. In this last installment I will be sharing a little more restful gifts for when your feet are beyond tired (and barking) or maybe too injured to move to their fullest range of motion.
Here we go, slow and deep foot healing!
When you first injure your foot the typical thing to do is R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). In a recent article I read titled "Rethinking RICE", Dr. Mirkin mentioned that instead of disrupting the foot of it's natural swelling process by healing with ice, you should allow the normal process to take place depending on pain level (more on that HERE). Since I am not a doctor, I will give you both options and you can choose how to care for your foot. If you do choose R.I.C.E. , please ice ONLY in the first 24hours. That is what I learned in health classes and First Aide training. After the first 24hrs I would then would typically switch between warm water and cold water (contrast bath). Those who work in Chinese Herbal Medicine are proponents of using heat to help move the pain and discomfort from the affected area. I use a foot bath like the one shown below which is usually sold as a cleaning caddy. Cheap and multi-functional.
As you can see I opted to not have real water in this photo. Use water wisely.
Besides the temperature (of the water) to help heal the injury, elevation is another big factor in the healing process. I mean all of it is. We really need to NOT baby our feet when we are injured, unless you cannot walk at all. Try your best to keep the foot moving to help blood flow. Elevation is something that I do at the end of a long day of movement and weight bearing. This allows the blood to flow that could otherwise not reach the full cycle back to the heart. By brining our feet overhead we are encouraging the blood in our feet to flow through our endocrine system to be recirculated. An example in the yoga asana (poses) would be Viparti Karani (legs up the wall).
For those who might experience natural bone degeneration and mutilation, like bunions, you want to allow time to space out the feet. By getting bunions you do not have to have surgery as your only option (this should be discussed with your doctor). As someone who has worked for so many years in a situation with not only "feet binding" but also massive manipulation of my feet being in pointe shoes; I have developed bunions. This can be avoided my (ballerina) friends, but it comes with the territory; with proper alignment of the feet and ankles while also weight bearing on them. My current at home self-care tool is these manicure toe spacers (I got at Diaso for less than $3). Some people use their actual hands to interlace with their toes. Whatever works for you! As I have done in the picture above, I have spaced my toes AND put the legs up the wall to get a double healing effect. I use this one especially before bed.
Lastly my "cure-all" is....
To take a nice warm bath!!!! Adding epsom salt, essential oils, and maybe tea bags or baking soda for detoxing and healing herbal properties. Don't have a bath??!!! Maybe before your shower you could spend a moment to practice Abhyaga, oil bathing. This comes from Ayurvedic medicine which is now coming into the front pages of all health magazines for natural and alternative ways to help heal and rejuvenate the body and skin. I practice with two different oils depending on the season (yes that has an effect on your body, mind and spirit). If you would like to learn more about oil bathing click HERE. You only have one body and in this life. This is your temple and your instrument. Keep it clean and keep it healthy.
Other things to considered if you become injured:
1. If you can limp you can walk. If you can't limp, go to the emergency room or your doctor! That is a rule that was given to me by one of my most revered dance teachers who would remind me of this every time I would fall and twist my ankle. He would tell me to walk it off if I could, meaning if you can bring the foot out of shock there is hope that you will not bring more damage to your ankle or foot. But the one time I couldn't get up and walk I knew something was wrong. A dislocated toe.
2. Don't assume the best or the worst. Get it checked out! The longer you go with pain or discomfort the less your doctor can help you with whatever your situation is. If your pain or discomfort goes beyond 1 week, it's definitely time to see a doctor. I also use this rule with illness, it may or may not be the best, but it works for me.
3. Get a second opinion. In all of your healthcare needs you should be the most informed about your situation before you make a decision.