When was the last time you walked, or ran, without footwear?
Remember your childhood? Kicking off your shoes, running around barefoot, not a care in the world!
As we grew up, the heels, socks and shoes, pretty sandals and pedicures took priority over the feel of the ground under our feet. After all, who would want to walk on such uneven ground, right? What kind of benefits can that have?
Well, being barefoot, in fact, has a lot of benefits!
Going barefoot uses those muscles in your feet that usually stay cushioned and covered by your footwear.
Balance, just like strength, speed and agility, is trainable. And moving around barefoot is a great way to do that!
Heels, or even shoes with small lifts under the heel, mold our bodies. To stay straight up, we push our butts back, and our waists forward. Barefoot, our body stays straight, without putting strain on our spine, butt or waist!
We all know how the roads are in India, right? But that may actually be in our favour! Every step on an uneven surface stimulates the muscles in our feet and increases the blood circulation. Also, better circulation means less aches and pains, less varicose veins and warmer feet and legs in the winters!
The soles of the feet have lots of nerve endings and sensory receptors. These send positive vibes to our brain for making our immune system more powerful and prepared. Walking barefoot helps activate these receptors, thus strengthening our immune system!
By training barefoot, you improve your strength, mobility and the ability to sense the position, location and movement of the body and its parts, which is called the “proprioception” of your feet. It also improves overall dexterity and reactivity.
Going barefoot is also a great stressbuster! Just imagine walking on soft grass, or sinking your feet into the sand on a beach… Feels amazing, doesn’t it?
The Holistique Program promotes barefoot training for all the wonderful benefits mentioned above!
So why don’t you try it out, and give your shoes a break?
Start out slow, though.
Years and years of wearing “comfortable” footwear makes your feet accustomed to the feeling of always having a layer between your feet and the ground. So, start slow. Walk around your house barefoot, take a stroll in the park, or just stand on uneven ground and feel the surface with the soles of your feet.
If you aren’t comfortable going sans footwear immediately, try out minimal footwear as visible in the image above. Minimalistic footwear gives you the feel and benefits of barefoot walking without the fear of injury! Get your feet evaluated by a barefoot specialist before going in for minimal footwear.
See how it feels, and go from there! Going barefoot really makes you feel wonderfully connected to the earth!
Give it a shot, and tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Pelvic floor problems are way more common than you can imagine. One of the reasons you may not know about this is..? You guessed it right! Because we don’t talk about them!
Numerous people suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction.
The need for awareness about this topic is paramount. That’s why I got in touch with Ms. Suzanne Ko, a certified postnatal fitness specialist.
In our blog today, we have come up with the FAQ’s people have about Pelvic health, and the answers to them!
1. What is pelvic health? What all does it include?
Pelvic health starts with the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is the base of our core. Along with its team members (diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus), the pelvic floor helps to stabilize the body. A well-functioning pelvic floor assists us in performing daily activities and exercise.
2. Are some women more prone to pelvic health issues than others?
This can be due to many factors, including genetics, pregnancy, lifestyle habits, heavy physical work, chronic constipation, obesity, long-term coughing or asthma, or hysterectomy. Pelvic health issues do not just affect women, but also men. They can arise as early as adolescence.
3. What are the most common pelvic health problems?
The most common pelvic health problems are:
• Diastasis recti – A weakening of the connective tissue between the “six-pack” muscle.
• Pelvic organ prolapse – A condition where the organs of the pelvis descend toward or through the opening of the vagina due to a loss of support from the pelvic floor muscles, fascia, and ligaments.
• Incontinence (urinary, fecal and/or gas)
• Pelvic pain
• Painful sex
• Back, hip, sacrum, or coccyx pain
These pelvic floor conditions do not just apply to women who have had a baby. They can also present in high-level athletes and some pelvic floor conditions present in men as well.
4. How will I know if I have a pelvic health issue?
Some will have a pelvic floor issue, but may not present with symptoms. Symptoms to look out for are signs of leaking, heaviness or pressure in pelvis, back pain or a feeling of incomplete bowel or bladder emptying.
5. Is regular screening necessary? How often?
Getting assessed by a physical therapist is a great way in actively being preventative when it comes to your overall health. It is highly recommended to get assessed by a women’s health pelvic floor physical therapist after your postpartum visit. Once cleared by your physical therapist, I recommend doing a yearly screen.
6. When should I visit the doctor if I feel I have a pelvic health issue?
I recommend seeking out a pelvic floor physical therapist if you feel that you have a pelvic health issue. A pelvic floor physical therapist addresses the the body as a whole, versus a doctor that will only treat the symptoms.
7. What can I do to improve my pelvic health?
Pelvic health starts with breathing and alignment. Pay attention to how you move throughout the day, which is more important than the hour you spend at the gym. This includes how you sit, stand, walk, pick up objects, perform household chores, pick up/hold/carry your children and how you use the bathroom. Try to keep your ribcage stacked over your hips and bum untucked, while performing any of these activities. Train for function at the gym, so you can perform your activities of daily living – hinging, squatting, pulling, pushing, rotation, loaded carry. Good nutrition is also an important factor, especially for new moms healing postpartum. Sufficient fiber in the diet will help prevent constipation.
8. In a country like India, what hygiene methods should I follow to have good pelvic health?
Elevating your feet (using a step stool) when you eliminate prevent excessive straining on the bladder and bowel. Hovering over the toilet can also put strain on the pelvic floor.
9. How do I maintain pelvic health as I age? (At different ages)
Implementing the changes I have suggested will help you to be proactive in your pelvic health, especially as you age. Changes in hormones in women as we age will increase pelvic floor conditions.
Pelvic health is an extremely part of a fit and healthy life. It’s not a topic to shy away from, or to be ignored. It is something that needs to be discussed and talked about!
If you have any other queries, please ask us in the comments below!
Also, I would love to know what YOU do to take care of your pelvic floor!
Going barefoot is a natural state of being for us, especially Indians. Even now, in some Indian villages, people spend almost 100% of their time barefoot. Many wander through fields and do hard, physical laborious work, and yet they rarely develop any feet problems. Instead, it has been proven that being barefoot actually strengthens your feet to support the rest of your body the way nature intended, which is one reason why barefoot training has taken a huge leap forward in recent years.
Wearing different types of footwear and always keeping our feet confined and protected actually has the opposite effect to strengthening. We are providing cushions and insulation to our feet, which then make our feet dormant and lazy, after which foot problems can arise (which we blame on footwear and the ground!). Think of it this way – why are humans the only species on earth who feel the need to wear shoes?
Going barefoot also improves our proprioception – which is the sensory input we receive from the soles of our feet, which plays a role in our stability, balance and coordination. It helps us to connect to the earth and to the environment, thereby allowing us to move in every way possible. The more stable the body, the more benefits we can reap from our workouts. Our feet create stability and help our body feel safe – and this stability allows us to progress further in all our workouts, without the danger of losing balance.
Feet affect everything – almost all of us know about the reflexology points in the soles of our feet, which connect to all parts of our body and nervous system. Your foot is connected to your core (pelvic floor and abdominal) – so all the more reason to train barefoot, to give you a strong core, flat abs, prevent back pain and improve running speed.
More benefits of working out barefoot include: stronger arches, improved muscle alignment, stronger ankles, increased flexibility, and healthier feet overall. It also strengthens our entire body by helping energy to flow smoothly through our body.
Barefoot running has gained huge popularity in the past decade, but several other regimes can be followed on a barefoot program, including yoga, martial arts, gymnastics etc. Barefoot and minimalist training is the most ideal way to workout, however your body needs to be properly prepared first. At Holistique, you get to train under Barefoot Master Instructor and Physiotherapist (Dr Anuja Luniya), and the program fuses a blend of workout styles conducted entirely barefoot, which gives additional benefits which you now know!
Let’s talk about exercise, fitness and health in the Indian setting. Enough has been written about this topic from a western perspective, and now that the fitness trend is picking up in India, we ought to embrace this movement!
Women’s fitness in particular has picked up significantly, with women-centric studios and programs cropping up. We all know exercise is essential, especially due to our sedentary lifestyles. For women this is all the more important – from young girls, to post menopausal women, and everyone in between. The benefits of exercise for women are countless throughout all stages of life. From building bone strength and muscle mass to preventing gynecological problems to restoring posture, balance and functional independence, the benefits are endless. And today’s Indian woman knows it!
And yet, the question remains: why do only 10-15% of Indian women exercise? What about the other 90-85%? The myriad of reasons for women not having time to exercise is astounding. Health cannot and should not be taken for granted! It’s always better to jump on the prevention bandwagon first, rather than learn the hard way.
Now, exercise does not mean a walk in the park for an hour. There are a variety of workout styles for a reason. Women need to incorporate strength training, especially Indian women (more on why in a later blog). Your exercise toolkit should have a variety of workout styles so that you achieve not just the weight loss benefit but other benefits of exercise. And sorry ladies, stretching is not working out! And doing cardio to lose those tyres isn’t going to work! Walking, jogging, running, cycling or an hours Aerobics/Zumba (no matter how much fun) are all good but alone, are not enough to keep you fit. Cardio is only one aspect of fitness. You need strength, balance, agility, power, flexibility, reduced risk of lifestyle diseases and hormonal balance too. You need exercises to keep you gynecologically healthy (the number of young girls with PCOD is on the rise and so is the number of women going in for IVF).
Exercise to show and maintain results requires sincerity, dedication and perseverance. Before joining a class, make sure you get to know what the exercise program is all about. Does it interest you? Do you think you can persevere with it? Always choose a program that you will be able to enjoy and sustain, because that’ll keep you from quitting.
Healthy living is not by chance. It’s a choice. A lot of little choices you make everyday to live healthy. Now ask yourself, do you really want to take your health for granted?