Saturday, September 10, 2005

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

In my last Daily Yoga Tip I mentioned the B word, bunions.

Bunions are a pretty common foot problem. In the medical literature they're called hallux valgus, a name that seems as appropriately unpleasant as the foot problem itself.

Hallux valgus is a progressive problem. It starts with a mis-alignment of the big toe. Instead of pointing straight ahead, the big toe crowds over toward the other toes.

bunions Posted by Picasa

Eventually, this problem progresses so that the joint at the base of the big toe changes, and ultimately the bones of the foot change.

bunion x-ray showing bone changes Posted by Picasa

Most people with bunions have a fairly large bump that protrudes out from the inside of the foot.

People who've got buinions are usually very unhappy with the way their feet look. They lose proper foot function. And many have foot pain, which you know, even if you've just stubbed your toe, can be debilitating.

Yoga can help. But first a little anatomy terminology.

When you spread your toes apart, thats abduction. When you squeeze your toes together, that's adduction.

The mnemonic I use isn't a pleasant one, but it works.

Think of the word abduction in it's common daily use. You hear it on the news in the police reports. When there's been an abduction, someone's been taken away, forcibly, from his or her family.

So abduction literally means "to carry away from."

When it comes to anatomy, you simply need to figure out from what. The "from what" is the mid-line of the body or body part. In this case, when you abduct your toes, you carry your toes away from the mid-line of the foot.

When you adduct your toes, you bring them toward the mid-line of your foot.

When you practice abduction of the toes, you start to reverse and correct bunions, without surgery.

Here's a quote from an English translation of a respected peer-reviewed medical journal: "[U]nsatisfactory outcomes following hallux valgus surgery are not rare." (Rev Med Suisse. 2005 Jan 19;1(3):258-63)

foot surgery = no fun Posted by Picasa

Since bunion surgery frequently fails, why not try a regular practice of attentive toe abduction?

Between the big toe and the second toe are muscles that, when contracted, pull the big toe toward the mid-line of the foot. These are adductors.

On the other side of the bid toe are muscles that, when contracted pull the big toe away from the mid-line of the foot. These are called abductors.

People with bunions are known to have a muscle imbalance. The adductors of the great toe are strong and hyper-contracted. They pull the big toe towards the other toes. The abductors are weak and over-stretched.

When you spread your toes, you strengthen the big toe abductors and stretch the big toe adductors.

Over time the big toe comes back into normal alignment. The likelihood of this reversal of bunions is higher if you start practicing toe spreading before degenerative changes to the joint and bones progress.

Look down right now. Take off your shoe and focus on your foot. Now try to spread your toes.

toe abduction Posted by Picasa

It ain't easy.

Read my Daily Yoga Tip tomorrow and I'll give you some tips for spreading your toes easier and making progress faster.

Don't just sit there. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., Did you notice above how I gave you some clues about how to remember the difference between abduction and adduction? That process is called association. You take a new idea and associate it with something with which you're already familiar. That's the technique we use at the Experience Yoga workshop.

But who wants to spend the day "applying a technique" when it's boring drudgery? Not me.

Learning the Sanskrit names of yoga poses can be fun and unforgettable if you have experiences that are unforgettable.

Join Sallie Keeney and me for our Experience Sanskrit workshops coming up in Columbia, MO at alleyCat yoga on October 15; Dallas, TX at Surya Center for Yoga on Noveber 5; and March 4, 2006 in Annapolis, MD at Golden Heart Yoga. Find out more about the $50 workshop at Register at

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


Anonymous megan sappington said...

kevin you crack me up!!!
*foot surgery=no fun*...i laughed out loud at that one!!!
keep up the great work..i adore your blog!
namaste, megan

10:59 AM  
Blogger delhifoot ankleclinic said...

Hallux Valgus Surgery

A bunion or hallux valgus Surgery is a swelling on the inner border of the foot affecting the base of big toe.

4:55 AM  
Blogger delhifoot ankleclinic said...

A bunion or hallux valgus Surgery is a swelling on the inner border of the foot affecting the base of big toe.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Valgome7 said...

Ich fand Ihren Blog, wenn ich für einen anderen Angehörigen von Informationen suchen, aber ich war sehr glücklich und froh, durch Ihr Blog lesen. Die hier vorliegenden Informationen ist groß.
Ich habe einige relevante Informationen, die Sie unten überprüfen können
Valgomed bei Hallux Valgus

9:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Toe yoga is the best! Love the way it feels when my toes are stretched.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Domo Nakamura said...

Love your article! There's just a typo in "On the other side of the bid toe are muscles that, when". It should be "big toe" instead of "bid toe". That's all. Have a wonderful day!

6:28 PM  

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