The story of how I became a teacher who prioritises the health of your feet and who reads studies and research about feet for fun.
I didn’t set out to be an expert on things foot movement. I didn't always know all kinds of interesting facts about feet (see yesterday's post). Like many people, I took feet for granted until they hurt and then they were an inconvenience. So what compelled me to study and research and learn so much about them?
I started out teaching Pilates and wanting to look lean, cut, and toned. I actually was all those things in those days. I could wear a crop top and be proud of my six pack, after two kids even! Working out was all about how I looked and what I could do physically (back bends, all the challenging “advanced” Pilates exercises). I rode horses and wanted to be an athlete and teach athletes. I wanted to work with strong people who didn’t complain, not broken people in pain. Guess who walked into my studio? That’s right, broken people in pain. People who wanted the same things I did but couldn’t get there.
And the truth was, I looked great, but I wasn’t functioning all that well either. As a movement teacher I thought it was my job to hide things about me that were weak. I needed to be a role model to my clients. I needed to pull my shoulders back, suck my stomach in and hold it there all day.
Fast forward to 2012 when I discovered Katy Bowman (through my Pilates mentor no less!). Katy is a biomechanist who has a visionary way of looking at human movement and when I started working with her, I knew I wanted to share this knowledge with others, but first I needed to apply it to myself. Years previously, I was in a Pilates workshop with a master teacher (the incredible Karen Carlson of Philadelphia) and she glanced across the room where I was sitting, stopped mid-sentence and practically shouted: “You have BUNIONS!” I was embarrassed but I didn’t really know what that was! She continued “let me show you some exercises that will help with that during the lunch break.” And that was when I first learned that so-called permanent adaptations weren’t that permanent, and that foot mechanics can be worked on and changed.
In 2012 I certified as a Healthy Foot Practitioner with Katy Bowman, which is a course that she offered at the time. This was separate to the Whole Body course I was also taking from her - a much longer and comprehensive course. As a Healthy Foot Practitioner I started applying the mechanics that I was learning to the foot and leg up to the hip. I began to appreciate the role the foot plays in the health of the whole body and that it was generally the best place to start regardless of your goals. For example, I get plenty of people who come to me wanting to address faulty shoulder mechanics. But did you know that chronic tension in the lower leg can cause acceleration forces through the body that end up throwing the head forward, potentially contributing to hyper-kyphosis (excessive curvature of the upper spine), and/or headaches and neck and shoulder pain? You might feel better after a session on the massage table, but if those forces are there with every step, the problem will return, and your massage therapist will continue getting your hard earned dollars (which is great, massage therapists are awesome, but I bet they would like to work on other parts of you besides your shoulders!).
Nine years, approximately 20 foot workshops, 100s of foot themed classes and several more training courses later, I’m putting together my first course on feet! I actually have a bunion course here that was created with the help of Jen at Healthy Moving and she hosts it, so "Rescue Your Feet" is the first course I’ve put together myself from scratch, using video that I create myself. I started by creating a framework for the course based on previous workshops that I can teach in my sleep now. But then a curious thing happened. The course started taking on a life of its own. You know you read about some authors saying the characters in their books drive the story and they don’t even know what’s going to happen? That’s how I feel about this course - I’ll wake up at 4 or 5am and think “I have to do this!” Unlike the organised business-like experience that a workshop is, with its built-in two hour limitation, a course is a much more creative process! I'm really enjoying the process of shaping this information and I’m super excited about releasing it in the world (I’m trying to stick to a deadline of end of May completion) and inspiring everyone who takes it to look at their feet with new found appreciation and care.
Thanks for reading,
If you want to learn more about my comprehensive course "Rescue Your Feet" sign up to get notified of the launch and take a step in the right direction!