I follow a guy named Dr. Perry Nickelston on Instagram (@stopchasingpain), and he made a post Tuesday morning about something that really struck me – how your toes compensate for a weak glute (aka butt muscle).
Here’s what he said:
“Toe gripping is a compensation for glutei (aka butt muscles) that don’t work well”
He goes on in the caption to talk about this as it relates to our everyday lives like walking and pain we might feel, but I thought about this in relation to balancing poses in yoga.
Our glutes are stabilizer muscles. AKA they help us balance on one leg and on both legs. So when our glutes are weak, balance can become a challenge. And when something in the body is weak, usually your body tries to compensate for that weakness by finding strength and stability elsewhere. In this case – it’s your foot/toes. Go ahead and stand up, curl your toes in, and notice how it activates the muscles up the back of your leg, all the way to your butt. It’s not major – it’s definitely very slight – but if you really pay attention you can feel that.
So, have you every noticed that when you balance on one leg in a yoga class, you grip your toes so much it feels like you’re trying to hold onto the floor? I know I have.
So for this blog post, I want you to try tree pose 3 ways:
Stand up right now and come into a tree pose (stand on one leg and bring the other foot to your inner thigh or calf) – Notice what your toes are doing. Are they gripping and curling towards the floor?
Now try tree pose and lift the toes of your standing leg up. Did you fall over? I did when I tried this!
If you want to make this even harder, you can try standing on a block with your toes hanging off, or you can stand on a big book if you don’t have a block. Just make sure your toes are hanging off the edge of the block/book. Are you trying to hold the block/book with your toes?
I’m curious to know how this goes for you. Leave me a comment and let me know if you felt yourself trying to grip with your toes! I know I do it!