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Activating the Arches

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, the lesson below is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only. This and all our audio lessons are 100% donor-supported. Before you begin, read this first for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below. Click the other lesson note tabs if you’re curious.

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Mostly back-lying, knees bent. The “tripod of the foot” lesson. Learning a more subtle awareness and control of the bones and muscles that create the fundamental ground contact structure of the body, and relating it to movements of the ankle, knee (head of the fibula), hip, back, and beyond.
  • At the beginning of the lesson when you are invited to be seated you may sit on the floor or on a chair.
  • The basic movement described as lifting or activating the arch of the foot does not need to be big. If you identify with having high foot arches, you might particularly benefit from making it a very small movement, and in fact bringing extra attention to the letting go of each arch activation, perhaps even adding a slight emphasis to tilting the foot toward the arch when that is introduced.

I sometimes call the fourth toe the “ring toe.” By this I mean an analogy to the ring finger: I’m talking about the toe next to the pinkie toe (not the toe next to the big toe, on which some people place rings!).

The metatarsals are the five “palm bones” of your feet. The head of a metatarsal is the joint where it meets the toe it is connected to. The head of the fourth metatarsal is at the base of the fourth toe (the one next to the pinky toe).

This lesson is found in the Standing, Walking, and Running lesson collection.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection it’s in.

Another approach to Activating the Arches would be in the context I often teach it as part of my “Organizing the Feet for Balance, Posture, and Power” workshop. In that workshop I usually precede it with a lesson called Breath, Belly, Back, and Hips: Connecting to the Earth, which you can find in our Miscellaneous Lessons collection.

I’ve got a free sample Zoom video class that includes a mini version of that workshop right here.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

Comfort & Configuration
  • At the beginning of the lesson when you are invited to be seated you may sit on the floor or on a chair.
  • The basic movement described as lifting or activating the arch of the foot does not need to be big. If you identify with having high foot arches, you might particularly benefit from making it a very small movement, and in fact bringing extra attention to the letting go of each arch activation, perhaps even adding a slight emphasis to tilting the foot toward the arch when that is introduced.
Clarifications

I sometimes call the fourth toe the “ring toe.” By this I mean an analogy to the ring finger: I’m talking about the toe next to the pinkie toe (not the toe next to the big toe, on which some people place rings!).

Curiosities

The metatarsals are the five “palm bones” of your feet. The head of a metatarsal is the joint where it meets the toe it is connected to. The head of the fourth metatarsal is at the base of the fourth toe (the one next to the pinky toe).

Context

This lesson is found in the Standing, Walking, and Running lesson collection.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection it’s in.

Another approach to Activating the Arches would be in the context I often teach it as part of my “Organizing the Feet for Balance, Posture, and Power” workshop. In that workshop I usually precede it with a lesson called Breath, Belly, Back, and Hips: Connecting to the Earth, which you can find in our Miscellaneous Lessons collection.

I’ve got a free sample Zoom video class that includes a mini version of that workshop right here.

Download

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.

Source

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.

Related Lessons

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

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19 Comments. Leave new

  • Avatar
    Nevenka Koprivsek
    May 13, 2015 12:06 am

    This is excellent ATM, I had a broken ankle as well and the tibia kind of fractured in length..so this is wonderful for me. Thanks for sharing. best wishes Nevenka

    Reply
  • :-)))))) Thank you!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Linda Flanders
    October 17, 2018 8:21 pm

    You are so wonderfully generous with your knowledge Nick. Well done!

    Reply
  • Since I need to build up my arches, I have repeated this lesson many times, and each time I hear or discover something “new”. You infuse a lot of details and opportunities for learning into this and other lessons, which is one reason I never get tired of them.

    Reply
  • I have done this lesson about 3 times. I think it is one of my favorites. This time, I had to sit back down on a chair shortly after completing the lesson…usually I like to walk around a bit and gaze into the expanded world…but something needed attention at my desk. In sitting, I felt myself more relaxed mentally but also a very, very clear sense of my sits bones; like they were the 4th metatarsals, supporting me. More secure base, better alignment in spine. Many thanks.

    Reply
  • So … the answer to the “quiz” … is the cartilage on the inside of my heel? : )

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      Nick Strauss-Klein
      June 7, 2019 8:52 am

      I could tell you but it might spoil the fun for others…. [Actually, I replied to Julie privately with the answer.]

      Reply
  • Thank you for your wonderful fresh way of leading the lesson into us and connecting it to everyday life. It helped me equalizing the feet

    Reply
  • This is one of my favorite lessons to find my body, and how all the parts are connected and can integrate in a beautiful, soothing and graceful way. This lesson makes me feel whole and Nick’s guidance is so loving and clear, Thank you Nick

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Michael Thompson
    August 21, 2019 4:00 am

    Wonderful, surprising and reinvigorating even on the third listen. Thanks so much Nick ! (From Brisbane Australia)

    Reply
  • I really enjoyed this lesson. Gave me a whole new perspective on balance and standing. Thank you!

    Reply
  • LOVE THIS!! my feet are awake!!

    Reply
  • This is my current favorite lesson to teach students (and for me to do!) Last time I taught it, a student commented that he didn’t feel like himself after the lesson… he felt like Cary Grant!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jennifer Ostermann
    March 1, 2020 12:30 pm

    Hello! I haven’t done this lesson yet – wondering, does this lesson involve lifting the pelvis? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      Nick Strauss-Klein
      March 1, 2020 3:09 pm

      Yes, it uses a classic ATM structure called “spine like a chain” as a refrain and a way to sense what the reorganizing explorations of the feet, knees, and hips are changing. Spine like a chain lessons use a back-lying, knees bent configuration, lifting the pelvis into the air then slowly lowering the spine “link by link.”

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Amneris Bustos
    March 23, 2020 8:31 am

    Thanks Nick for this wonderful website, it was a great treasure that I found searching for exercises for my nephew, I have been doing feldenkrais for many years, but I’ve living in Santa Marta Colombia since 2017, so this is something big for me. I just finish this class and it is outstanding, congratulations for your work and thanks again for sharing it with the world.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Liana Elena Romulo
    December 1, 2020 4:54 am

    What a great class! It helped me get my hamstrings and buttocks activated.

    Reply
  • Fantastic class – I looked up the 4 metatarsal and I was imagining the correct one! Confusing and interesting – a great lesson to repeat.

    Reply

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