What began as a nice idea slowly became an interesting project. Together with the Conscious Movement Studio (Studio vědomého pohybu), we started working on a project called Winter Challenge. The challenge was taken up by five women, who were to wear Alignment Socks and do other foot exercises for one year. The aim was to compare the feet of all the participants at the beginning of, during, and at the end of the challenge. So, how did it go and what was the end result? Physiotherapist Mgr. Tatiana Bošková explains.
First of all, some information about Tatiana Bošková
Mgr. Tatiana Bošková has worked as a physiotherapist since 2009. She specialises mainly in children with scoliosis, women with incontinence, and in recent years has focused mainly on feet. In her own words, our feet are our "beloved friends, who accompany us on our journey through life and on our own personal pilgrimage". Therefore, they clearly deserve our attention and care.
You might already have come across Tatiana Bošková in our blog, in the article entitled Foot Alignment Socks in practice: How they have helped Zuzana T. and others.
Winter Challenge project
A total of five women accepted our Winter Challenge:
- a nursery school teacher
- a working grandmother
- a beautician
- an ICU nurse
- a young woman in her second trimester of pregnancy
As part of the challenge, we made eight visits during the course of one year, where each of the participants gradually discovered her own feet in a simple way. I use the word ‘discover’ here deliberately, as you might be surprised by how many people are not familiar with or have no perception of their feet. Asking the brain to move your big toe or spread your toes might seem easy, at least until you try it. There are so many people who cannot manage these basic movements at all.
One question perhaps is why we called it the Winter Challenge, when we studied the results over the course of a year. We started in winter and so we used the wintertime to harden the ladies to the cold. But more about that later.
We came across a number of medical complications such as bunions, flat feet, ankle instability and hypotension of the feet. This didn’t bother us too much, one might say, as it was actually beneficial to see how the various techniques and aids could be used with a positive effect on a multiple disorders. We focused particularly on:
- the mechanical treatment of soft tissues
- physiotherapy of function according to Clara Lewit
- loosening up the heel and instep according to Spiral Dynamics
- wearing Foot Alignment Socks
- kinesio taping
- conscious movement
- hardening to the cold
Note on hardening to the cold: hardening to the cold can greatly help you to feel your feet more and better. You skin will become suppler, which will result in greater stability, such as in cases of hypotension of the feet. You don’t need much: a cold shower, snow, a bucket of ice on the balcony, and so on.
How the Winter Challenge went from the first visit
During the first visit, we focused on analysing the current state of the feet; the participants described any discomfort or complications they were experiencing. Based on this, we drew up an individual plan for each participant. That comprised a set of procedures involving the mechanical treatment of the soft tissues and fingers, as well as a gentle massage and practising the correct positioning of the joints in the joint space according to Clara Lewit's physiotherapy of function. We then continued with mechanical treatment of the heel bone and instep according to Spiral Dynamics. Alignment Socks were an important part of the challenge. The participants received a pair of Alignment Socks together with instructions on how to use them.
The second visit was all about repeating the exercises the participants had learned, adjusting how the Alignment Socks were worn and for how long, and also taping the soles and doing the exercises they had already learned while standing. It should be noted that by the time of this visit, the participants were already feeling a certain degree of relief and improvement after looking after their feet at home. According to most of the feedback, their feet felt lighter and they were more aware of the contact between their feet and the ground. Wearing Alignment Socks gave them some relief and the women were generally happy that their condition was improving.
Time passed and the women continued to learn. We taught them how to use their feet on various surfaces and to grasp various items. I recommended for the women to not stretch or put too much strain on their soles for the duration of the challenge. This meant stopping wearing elasticated socks, narrow-toed footwear and slippers. Where there was good reason to, the women bought barefoot shoes. Three of them are still even wearing them today, and have found a new direction and style.
How the Winter Challenge turned out
After the end of that year, we only managed to get in touch with three of the five participants – the working grandmother, the beautician and the pregnant woman.
Eva, who we have referred to as the working grandmother, was visibly suffering with her bunions. During the Winter Challenge, her big toes had not noticeably straightened, but her problems with her soles and knee joints had eased. As those are now better and she is in better shape, nowadays she enjoys walking with her granddaughter and even skiing. I’d like to point out that the toes do not always correct themselves visibly, but if there is an improvement in the soles and less pain, that’s a great success.
Andrejka – the beautician – did not have any problems with her toes themselves, but she felt tired after sitting down all day. Andrejka suffered from excess strain on her heel and Achilles tendon attachment, too, probably also due to a poorly positioned heel bone. After a year of the challenge, she feels better and the pressure on her heel bone has eased, thanks to constantly wearing Alignment Socks.
The last lady we managed to contact was Petra, in her second trimester of pregnancy. Her little girl Simonka has obviously been born since then and, besides making the most of her baby, Petra is also enjoying wearing Alignment Socks. Petra suffered from hypotension of the feet and her ligaments were also looser due to the hormones. The question here is whether they should be loosened further using Alignment Socks, when they are already loose. The answer is yes, as Petra worked even harder on activating her muscles. She also found hardening her soles, stimulating her skin and taping to be a great help. Petra now really appreciates the time she spent taking care of her feet.
Conscious movement is the key to success
The overall feeling from the challenge was beautiful. I’d also describe the women’s cooperation and results as very positive. Even small steps can bring about an improvement. It is hugely important to enjoy changes and to learn to perceive oneself. So, the key to a happy life is loving yourself and caring for your body, such as caresses, massage and exercise, or wearing Alignment Socks. They have a really wide range of benefits and uses. Basically, we should reward our body for the services it provides to you all your life.
I’d like to conclude by mentioning that any change to a non-functional stereotype, whether walking or standing, requires intense and long-term work and attention – for at least one year. Conscious and graceful movement with no discomfort is the key to success. You’ll then be delighted at how you can help yourself. That is very important to me. The challenge participants reached this point, which filled my heart with joy. Because of this, I consider the Winter Challenge to have been a success.
Conscious Movement Studio