ask a yogi: my arch hurts holding yoga poses

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I am doing hot yoga and vinyasa. Sometimes I can’t hold a pose - not because I lack strength or balance – but because the arch of my foot hurts. Any clue what that is and what I can do about it?- melanie

a yogi answers

Dear Melanie,

When balancing, try to shift your focus to your core, for you may be placing too much strain on your foot, overworking it a bit. So, think of lifting away from the floor by creating a lift through the belly, which you keep tightly pulled in for a ‘lifting action’ relieving strain from your joints as well (ankles and knees). Always think of defying gravity, and avoid ‘sitting’ or ‘sinking’ into the pose.

You can also try lifting the toes to ensure that you are distributing your body weight across your foot as evenly as possible. In doing so, carefully press the big toe mounds and inner heels down into the floor, and powerfully recoil the arches up into the inner ankles. This may be difficult initially, but will eventually build the strength that you need in your arches.

A daily practice of Virasana, which stretches the top of the foot and strengthens the arches, will be beneficial. Do Virasana (with buttocks on a folded blanket or a block if necessary) whenever possible. While you practice this pose, massage the arches of your feet, pressing on the arches as if cultivating an arch with your thumbs. Also, spread your toes as far apart as possible to avoid foot cramps during Virasana.

- Grace, lululemon Queen St. ambassador

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Comment by angel — July 28, 2010 @ 6:20 am

I’m having the same pain in my arch. Thank you for the tips!

Comment by Meagan — December 13, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

This is some great advice. I have never heard of a stretch for the arch of the foot. I will have to try that one.

Comment by foot cramps — June 11, 2011 @ 11:31 am

I always heard to never point your toes. It is probably a good idea to make sure you are getting the adequate daily water intake.

Comment by foot cramps — July 30, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

Hi, I work for a podiatrist, and it sounds like you might have plantar fasciitis. It’s a super common condition that people get when your plantaris muscle fascia is too tight/small for your muscle and it becomes chronically inflamed. You can do specific stretches to work on stretching it out, but if you already practice yoga, you may want to look into surgery. At Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute, we do the Topaz, which is a lot faster recovery than traditional plantar facsiitis surgeries. I’d recommend asking a podiatrist near you about that option.:)

Comment by Michelle — August 14, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

No I know this feeling melanie is mentioning and it’s not plantars fasciitis. I think, if she’s anything like me, it only happens in certain poses from having high arches. Just trying to ground out on one foot with a high arch puts a lot of weight and strain on your arch which makes it ache.

I have very high arches and during poses that require being grounded through one foot (dancer, tree, etc), my foot arch aches with pain because of the weight spread on it. Really a bizarre feeling. I’ve had to stop the poses early to work my foot around. This blog gives great tips that I can’t wait to try!

Comment by high arches — December 11, 2012 @ 5:29 am

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