Meet Your Body- Toe Spreaders
Season 3 Episode 6 Transcript
Hi there, all you listening listeners out there. If you are a regular listener, you’ll have noticed that I took a bit of a mid-season hiatus there for bit. Where I live in southeastern Pennsylvania is starting to open up and get moving again- actually it has been, but I’ve been slow to follow! As I’m starting to open up myself more, I took some time to reassess things like how I’ve been connecting with you.
I’m starting on an alternate-week plan, where I’ll be putting out online content like this Holistic Lifestyling podcast, every other week because on the alternate weeks- drum roll please!- I’m going back to some in-person workshops! Now, these are going to be local to me here in the Philly ‘burbs, so if you’ve got a good idea for a location that might want to host me, hit me up on email and let me know what you’re thinking. And if you’re not local but you’re thinking, “Hey, I want a workshop!” then let's work on figuring out an online version for you!
Point is- this podcast is moving to every other week, and I’ll be working on my live and in-person, maybe through a screen, workshops so I can see your faces again!
Now, toe spreaders.
Before we jump into all things toe spreaders, let me reiterate that these little doohickeys aren’t your first step into the foot mobility game. Foot mobility is huge, I’ve talked about that before, and it’s a challenge to develop it because we’re constantly using our feet.
My approach to all things holistic wellness is to take mini steps, both so that you can incorporate them into your normal life and forget there was a time you didn’t do the thing, and also so that you don’t overwhelm your body with big huge changes. Yes, you could injure yourself, but it’s even more likely that you’ll just inconvenience yourself with some really inappropriate soreness and annoyances that override how important you know these things are, and you’ll just stop. Please don’t stop. Just take it a little easier, and it’s so much easier to keep going.
In regards to toe spreaders, these are a big-ish step. I always recommend starting foot mobility with two smaller steps first- toe fingers, and toe socks.
“Toe Fingers” is interlacing your fingers in your toes, like you’re holding hands with your feet. Do this while you’re sitting at home relaxing, and do it until it doesn’t drive you crazy anymore!
We tend to hold ourselves very tightly, literally and figuratively, and this is evident in the amount of discomfort, anxiety, anger, and even panic that comes out when we physically open ourselves up at our feet. Don’t be alarmed at the emotions that can bubble up, and take your time working through this.
When it’s not so uncomfortable to do toe fingers anymore, graduate yourself to toe socks, the ones with the individual toes like gloves. Toe Sock sare the next step because the fabric is thin and flexible, so it’s not as much work as Toe Fingers for your feet, but they’re persistent. So it’s less space than your fingers created, but you can wear them for minutes, or even- dare I say- hours.
Again, start with wearing them when you’re relaxing at home. You can peel them off when you’ve had enough, and work your way up to wearing them in shoes or during exercise classes. What a thought, right?
When toe socks are easy peasy for you, NOW is when we talk about toe spreaders. These are silicone contraptions that look like brass knuckles- and indeed, that’s how you wear them, but on your feet.
You’ve got to thread your toes into each of the loops, with the soft spacers between your toes. And again, start small, comfy at home. This isn’t just a mild suggestion, either. I have very flexible feet, and the first time I wore my spreaders my new toes were purple after 15 minutes. They’re just not used to physically being moved apart this way, and not only will your foot bones and muscles and ligaments and tendons strengthen and improve with this practice, but so will your foot circulation- I promise!
That’s the how- now for the when, and then the where.
Since foot mobility is important, wear your toe spreaders whenever you can! But if I had to prioritize, I’d encourage you to slip them on after you wear shoes that crunch your toes. When you put shoes on, check and see if you can lift and spread your toes. If your toes run into the walls of the shoes, that’s a toe spreader fix.
The other important thing to know is that backless shoes also crunch your toes, since you have to scrunch them up to keep the shoes on. So anything that doesn’t cover the back of your ankle- slides, mules, flip flops, you get the picture- also needs some toe separators to set you back up with good space and function.
So, the big question- what toe spreaders should I buy? Are they the same as pedicure separators? NO! No they’re not. Usually with a pedicure, you’ve got some stiff, disposable foam or cardboard separators that don’t have a bottom piece, and that’s not what we’re talking about here. Toe separators are like brass knuckles- loops for your toes to fit in, thicker bits of padding for between the toes, and made of silicone not brass.
The key here is the material. You want a nice, soft, flexible silicone- and the best way to figure this out is to read some reviews. Toe separators that are too small or too stiff are worse than not wearing them in the first place!
You’ll probably notice I'm not being specific here. That’s on purpose, because as soon as I recommend a specific brand they’ll change their manufacturer, or go out of business, or something will change. So read some reviews online, give them a stretch and squish to test them if you’re buying them in person, and get them on your feet! Once you’ve built up with toe-fingers and toe sock, that is.
I would LOVE to hear your experiences with toe fingers, toe socks, and toe spreaders. Have you used any of these techniques before, or are you using them now? What are your best tips and ideas for finding them, for buying them, and for remembering to use them? When do they help you the most? How long did it take you to feel semi-comfortable using them? You can email me or jump into the comments on my Instagram post for this episode. Talk to you soon!
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Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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