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Foot Cramps in Yoga or Pilates Classes
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Forum Posts: 32

February 7, 2008 - 8:24 am

Namaskar Amy,

Cramps in the feet are caused due to a variety of reasons; such as: pointing the toes, flat feet, tightness in the feet, tightness in the ankle, and excessive standing, or walking, during the day.

There are bands of fascia, which tend to tighten up too much, because of excessive standing or a new asana. I have also seen this happen to walkers and runners.

Cramping can occur because muscles and tendons are programmed to stay in a fixed position. Yoga practice puts our feet in different positions from the average person's daily activity.

Our feet really should be massaged a few times per week, especially, if we stand all day. We do stretch the feet and ankles, when performing asanas, but there is usually some muscle tension left in the feet.

In your classes, you can guide your students to massage the arches of their feet, while pressing up and down the arches with their two thumbs.

You could use a small, but sturdy, rubber ball, or a tennis ball, then roll it under the bottom of your foot.

You could sit on the couch or in a chair and lightly place the weight of the leg and foot down onto the ball.

Roll the ball under the bottom of the foot with a linear motion, going back and forth, as needed, to massage the bottom of the foot.

Here are some ideas for modifications.

In Balasana (Child Pose), place a rolled up blanket underneath the ankles. This will reduce the pressure on the front of the foot, reducing the pull on the bottom of the foot, relieving any cramps or muscle spasms. This applies to any asana, where the feet are pointed flat, such as: Virasana and Balasana.

Setting up in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog pose), you can encourage students to set up on the floor, on their hands and knees. Set the knees directly below the hips and the hands slightly forward of the shoulders.

Spread the palms, with the index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, roll the toes under, and immediately press the balls of feet into floor to push into down dog. This reduces the time the feet are on the floor or mat, with the toes pointed back in Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose).

Spread the toes apart to reduce foot cramps during Virasana (Hero Pose).

When practicing standing asanas, you can press the big toe mounds and inner heels into the floor, and then recoil the arches up toward the inner ankles.

Om Shanti,


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