How to Get Happy, Strong and Healthy Feet for the Camino

how to build up your feet for the CaminoFor the next few blogs I am going to discuss how to get happy, strong and healthy feet for the Camino (Felices, sanos y fuertes pies en el Camino). It’s very important to get your feet strong, stretched and ready to walk the long distances along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostella.

The function and anatomy of our feet is complex:

1)  The feet are our connection with the Earth forming a weight bearing foundation for our body. The feet balance weight distribution and alignment with the body that lines up over them.

2)  The feet and toes bear and propel body weight during movement.  The feet balance the body during movement and changes in body position. The feet enable mobility, direction and balance. The toes help with balance and propulsion during movement.

3)  Each foot has 26 bones, 33 muscles, 31 joints and over 100 ligaments. Our pair of feet has approximately 25% of all bones, 20% of all muscle and 17% of all joints in the human body.

4)  The foot has 2 kinds of muscles:

    1. Intrinsic-short muscles that run between the foot bones
    2. Extrinsic-leg muscles that extend into and control movement of the feet

5)  The foot regions are:

    1. The forefoot which is formed by the metatarsals and phalanges creating our toes
    2. The midfoot comprised of 5 tarsal bones, which create the instep
    3. The heel comprised of the calcaneus and talus, which through articulation with the tibia and fibula, form the ankle joint

6)  There are 250,000 sweat glands in each pair of feet.  This is the most density of sweat glands anywhere in the body and they are capable of releasing nearly a cup of sweat each day into our socks and shoes.

7)  The 3 arches in the foot are formed by the structural alignment of the bones, ligaments and tendons in the foot.  The function of the arches are:

    1. Absorbing shock
    2. Distributing weight of the body
    3. Foot flexibility
    4. Adaptability for the shape of the sole of the foot  for varied surfaces

8)  The Achilles tendon starts in the calf muscle and runs down to the back of the heel.  The Achilles tendon allows us to rise on our toes, run and jump.

9)  The plantar fascia connects to the Achilles tendon at the base of the heel.  It aids in support and stabilization of the foot during walking.

Strengthening and stretching the foot and lower leg muscles will maintain muscle tone in the feet. By practicing yoga poses that strengthen and stretch muscles, joints and ligaments of the foot and ankle we can increase our foot health, posture, balance and alignment and support for other areas of the body. Yoga gives feet a healthy workout and focus that you rarely get in other exercise venues. Yoga poses usually begin by evaluating the importance of the positioning of the feet and other body elements required for getting into the posture. In standing poses proper alignment and positioning of the feet includes:

1.   Grounding through the 4 corners of the feet (big toe area, baby toe area, inner and outer heel)

2.   Equally distributing the weight between each foot

3.   Pressing down on the outer edges of your feet and raising your arches

4.   Rising up on your toes, then rolling back on your heels keeping balanced

5.   Lifting your toes towards the sky when standing activates your foot muscles, raising the arches, and grounding and balancing the 4 corners of the feet.

In the next blog I will share with you yoga poses and other techniques I use for strengthening and stretching the feet.  Yoga starts with bare feet. This allows the feet to adapt their natural shape and function and lets them breathe. I love walking barefoot. In the winter the only time I really walk barefoot, is on my Yoga mat. Grounding and focusing on the feet for alignment and balance is a core part of many yoga postures.

Buen Camino and Happy, Strong and Healthy Feet on the Camino. Felices, sanos y fuertes pies en el Camino…

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Until next time,



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