Finding my Left Foot
Mobilizing the Feet and Healing
A couple of weeks ago I sprained my left foot; not a horrible sprain, but a sprain none the less. X-rays showed no broken bones. I was fitted with an extremely comfortable wrap and a boot. The boot I never used, just too klutzy amid a confusion of straps and painful to get into. Fortunately I had a couple of walking sticks and they worked just fine. The scariest part was the sound I heard coming from my foot, as I mis-stepped on the last step of a staircase. I fell over onto my left foot and knew enough just to lie there. I felt the shock through my body and while a thousand “oh-nos” went through my mind, another part of me said, “the healing starts now.” I rested in pain the first 24 hrs, then things got much better. I knew I was lucky. Three weeks later, I still had a hobble, and very tentatively was taking my dog for slow, very short walks. Full, functional recovery was in my sights.
What did I do to help myself? Of course I started using somatic movement right away. This I’ll say more about shortly. A big thank you goes to my husband, Paul, for his care and concern. Also a huge thank you to Monica Roseberry who lead me in a “tapping session.” Briefly, a tapping session is about setting a goal, and then using various acupressure points which you tap as you repeat your goal. The process is quite a bit more involved. Monica is incredibly skilled and experienced and has developed her own format. (See side bar with information about contacting Monica Roseberry.)
Somatically, the main ingredients I used were: rest, calming thoughts and focused breathing, tapping, somatic movements, and some manual (massage) fascial techniques. The best part of the day was lying on the floor and doing the basic Cat Routine as developed by Thomas Hanna. (Somatics, by Thomas Hanna, p. 99) This has been my daily practice, my form of meditation, for the last 28 years. It allows me to shine a light, as if from a lighthouse, on my inner world, both mind and body. Sometimes I loose myself in the sensations from the movements, or marvel at the flow and rhythms of rocking my pelvis this way and that, or give appreciation for the relief from pain and discomfort I might be experiencing.
Somatic movements are helping me find my left foot again. Right after the injury I just wanted to keep it as still as possible because stillness didn’t hurt. I’d look at both my feet and they felt so different from one another. My right foot was just my regular right foot. But my left foot represented so much more to me aside from the physical part of the injury. The emotional aspect of this injury contained hidden unconscious truths I did not want to confront, but then decided I needed to confront. I worked on the emotional and psychological aspects with Monica Roseberry and her tapping technique. The result has been a renewed sense of energy and motivation for my own somatic work. Thus, I am back at creating a new issue of my newsletter (after almost a year’s gap), completing several videos I started, and gestating some new ideas for the future.
Below are a number of videos centered around mobilizing the feet, including rehabilitating foot sprains. Each video, except the last, starts with simple movements and then integrates these movements into larger regions of the body or even the whole body. The body is incredibly interconnected and smaller regions need to be integrated into larger functional patterns which mimic real life. "The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone." Our feet are related to our head, and our spine, and our shoulders, and our being in both straight forward anatomical/physiological ways and in the more elusive, metaphorical psycho-social-environmental, and I would add, spiritual realms. We learn to walk and, hopefully, we learn to stand up for ourselves.
The movements in the videos start more simply and then evolve into combinations of movements creating a more sophisticated integration of feet with body. Bringing presence and mindfulness to the process is key: using minimal force, moving slowly, paying attention to the sensations of the movements; paying attention to your first person experience and trusting what feels helpful and what does not. This last quality is what many of us leave out and yet it is often the key in helping us discriminate between movements that help or prolong our healing.
Of course, I am using self pandicular movements in these videos. In pandiculation, the main clinical technique in Hanna Somatic Education, you are using the motor parts of the brain, especially the motor-sensory cortex, to voluntarily contract a group of muscles, and then slowly and with control, voluntarily release out of contraction to rest and relaxation. Pandiculation can feel like magic and often releases tight, contracted muscles in a very short period of time.
What is new to me in my healing process with my foot sprain is a greater understanding of how I can apply fascial tissue techniques along with somatic movement. By and large, fascial tissue is our fibrous body-wide web consisting of fibrous and elastic tissues embedded in a matrix. It is everywhere and has different names such as tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, aponeuroses, muscle septa, and more. Muscles are embedded in pockets in the fascia. Everything, muscle fibers, blood vessels, bones, nerves, organs, and more, is wrapped in some form of fascial tissue. In the last video you'll see a demonstration of how I use massage techniques including skin rolling to help bring comfort, pain relief, and mobility back to my left foot.
Fascia plays several important roles in the functional organization of muscles and our body as a whole. Different fascial tissues emphasize different roles. Some are better at muscle force transmission, some are better at transmitting proprioceptive information (sensory information about gravity and where our limbs are in space), gut and organ fascial sensory receptors transmit interoceptive information informing us about our sense of self, and research now is also showing that fascia contains many nociceptive nerve endings (pain receptors; sympathetic innervation), and much much more.
I’ve been watching various YouTube videos about fascia. Therefore, In the last video, I not only show a few things such as wraps, creams, and shoes that helped me in the earlier phases of my healing, but also I’ve included a demonstration of my interpretation of how to apply manual/massage techniques to some of the fascial tissues of my left foot and foreleg.
One of my clients, a woman in her 70s, who fell off a ladder and injured her shoulder, asked me if she would heal perfectly. I told her that in my opinion, “perfection,” was not the goal. The goal was functional healing; healing that would allow her to do what she wanted to do in her life, unimpeded, even if her shoulder didn’t end up healing perfectly. This took a great weight off her shoulders, no pun intended (but I like it). So many things happen to us in life including injuries. Setting a goal of functional healing is so much more doable than some ideal of perfection.
Note: The best of the fascial videos, in my opinion, are from Dr. Robert Schleip, who has digestested the latest research, including research by Luigi Stecco (Italy), Atlas of Physiology of the Muscular Fascia. Here are some YouTube references.
Fascinating Fascia: Latest News (lecture by Dr. Robert Schleip to European Rolfers). Published on Apr 29, 2017
Robert Schleip 'Fascia as internal sensor' Published on Jan 31, 2017. Lecture presentation from Dr. Schleip via live videostreaming within the conference on 'An Integrative Approach or medically Unexplainable Physical Symptoms (MUPS)' of the Dutch Osteopathic Association (NVU) on Sept. 17-18, 2016.