In the last blog post, we introduced you to a variety of senses (we actually have around 20-23 unique, defined senses) that a lot of people don't realize have been defined. As you know, because you’re human and you live in your body, we have a lot more senses than just the five we focus on in school. (Again, they don't teach us everything we need to know in school). But now that you know, aren't you excited to start engaging with your senses (many of them) in mindful and playful ways?
Since we are focusing on our feet, let's get to know these marvelous and extremely useful parts of our body. Here are some facts about our feet:
- Each foot is composed of 26 bones and 30 joints. With more than 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles, all of which work together to provide mobility, balance, and support.
- Around 25% of the bones found in the body are located in the feet. Your feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands that can yield up to 1 cup of sweat daily.
- There are around 8,000 nerves in your feet which makes them have more per square centimeter than any other part of your body.
This is simply amazing. Obviously, there is a lot to explore at the base of our body. Let's keep these facts in mind as we take a sensory walk and imagine all the possibilities.
Starting with the most accessible. Walk around your house for a good part of the day, or the entire day without shoes. Notice the texture and temperature of the surface. Be mindful throughout the day about how these things change.
This is probably the second most accessible for most people, and the one that we probably are most likely to do spontaneously. Grass feels great on our bare feet. It tingles, it tickles. Grass is cool and refreshing. Running, jumping, skipping, hopping on grass are all pleasurable ways to explore your foot’s sensory nerves.
Another spontaneous barefoot experience for most people is sand. Sand is cool because it actually changes as we apply pressure to it. Sand is also interesting because depending on the elements, like heat or water, it can have very different textures. One cool sensory walk is to take your shoes off at the entrance of the beach and walk towards the water. Notice as the texture, feel, and temperature of the sand change as you get closer to the ocean. Another favorite sensory foot experience is to stand in the surf about ankle deep and let the tide roll over you. As it moves back and forth, notice the sand changing around your feet and your feet digging in with each wave.
A little less accessible, but still fairly common for a lot of climates is moss. There are many types of moss with varying textures. Normally moss can be found growing in shaded areas or North facing parts of buildings. Moss, like grass, is usually cool to the touch, but it is much more spongy and if it’s dry can be brittle. It’s a wonderful sensory experience. Unlike grass, you’re less likely to find large patches of it and it likes to grow on uneven surfaces. So running and jumping, etc. are probably not the best way to explore. Really diving into the pressure sense with moss will give your feet a workout. Find a spongy patch as big as your feet and play with pressing your toes into the moss. It’s a great way to give your feet a workout and your senses a playdate.
Fairly accessible, but such a wide variety. Smooth river rock-type stones would be on one end of the spectrum and limestone crushed gravel would be on the other end of the spectrum. Investigate your neighborhood. Stones of all kinds are very common in all types of landscaping. The cool thing about stones is that they provide an uneven surface that changes within centimeters. This is an awesome foot sensory experience. Yes, it might take a while to get used to it but it’s well worth it. Could you start with a minute of walking on stones and increase your time? Then change the kinds of stones to less smooth. If you take a step and feel pain, hold that position, you will notice the pain will go away. That is a natural reflexology massage in progress. While you're building your endurance, think of the temperature of the stones along with the current season. This can be a beautiful way to connect with the earth (we will get more into that on another blog post about grounding).
A little less accessible for flatlanders, but you'd be surprised. There are pine trees in Las Vegas even. So go look around at your local park. In the late summer through fall they will shed their needles, creating a pretty cool, kinda prickly, somewhat bouncy, and definitely warm sensory experience. Go slow and really think about the texture underfoot on this one.
This is a classic! Mud play rules. And it’s not just for kids! The sensory experience we get from touching mud is profound. It actually works on our brain in marvelous ways helping us to adjust and adapt to "sticky" situations in the messy thing we call life. Your feet, standing in some wet earth, doing some pressure-aware toe exercises, and trying to unearth your foot from the pull, are being paid back for all the time they spend in shoes!
These next two are more suggestions if you’re in proximity to such places, or if you take a trip and have the opportunity. Downed logs are a super cool foot sensory experience that engages your sense of touch, pressure, and Equilibrioception (balance) along with proprioception (knowing where your body parts are without having to look at them). Jumping from log to log or boulder to boulder is a great workout and a top-level sensory foot fitness experience. And walking in a river bed, that could have various textures and temperatures is another next-level experience.
This list is by no means complete. What kind of foot sensory experiences have you had? Leave your comments below. Share some pics on our social media #footfitnesschallenge