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Do you wear shoes or free your feet in Pilates?

This is a valid question if you've never done Pilates and are considering your wardrobe selection for your upcoming debut at a studio. Generally, we don't wear shoes during Pilates sessions as working on the feet is a very important part of overall health for your body. It’s not an area that most people are used to exploring, strengthening or even stretching, but the feet are a crucial part of how we maintain our uprightness in the world.  In some cases, the development of flat feet can contribute to changes in the spine, even potential scoliosis. An overarched foot comes with its own set of back troubles. But how many people think to address the foot when you’re complaining of knee, hip, back, shoulder or neck discomfort?  Yes – it’s all related and that’s why we place a big emphasis at our studio on restoring foot function!


I see more and more people with foot issues that really can be avoided if we give as much attention to dedicating time to our feet workouts as we do to bulking up our biceps or sculpting the six-pack muscles.


Feet are our foundation and have an incredible design. If you keep them closed in shoes, they don't get a chance to move and support you the way they are meant to, and then you're bound to meet a bunion or two.

Most of the children I work with have an imbalance in their feet which leads to other issues with general balance, alignment of their joints and even affecting their spines.

I have only had 2 cases in my 15+ years of teaching where we've kept shoes on for clients - and that was related to a significant leg length discrepancy and a severe ankle reconstruction that simply required the shoe to remain on in order to work as evenly as possible through the lower leg and provide the necessary support.


grip socks on Pilates reformer with Franklin Method ball
Pilates accessory favourite : fashionable hospital issued grippy socks

So what's the buzz with wearing socks then?

Well socks - particularly grippy socks - are a standard in most studios, mainly for the purposes of hygiene, but as with active clothing, they are a fashion icon all on their own. If you’ve done Pilates before, you know that at times we are going to ask you to mould your feet over different sized curved or uneven surfaces. So, if your feet haven’t developed the strength and mobility to grip on, then those socks can become your best ally. I like to think of them as gecko suction feet.  And while there are hundreds of brands and styles to choose from, some of my favourite socks that appear in the studio are the hospital grippies. Why? Because it reminds me of the vital role that Pilates and movement play in restoring people to their optimal function.

Where do you start?

In my opinion, ball rolling on the feet is an intoxicating practice (so long as you have a loving ball - I'm not a super fan of spikey balls) and it is my first point of entry to helping people get accustomed to feeling their feet again. If you think of how good it feels to get a massage, ball rolling is the same treat for your feet. Some of the strongest fascia is at the base of your feet along with the most nerve endings, so anything that can release or stimulate that area is a tick in my books.

My ball of preference is the Smooth Franklin Method balls, so here’s a video series for you to release your feet. Don't stop at just the feet though as this playlist will get you feeling so good!! While you can use any ball - trust me, these orange beauties are the best. Let me know if you need help in sourcing a set.

Because I believe in empowering you with simple tools to live a better life in this amazing body, I created another YouTube video to follow along with, to assist you with some of the terrific exercises that we cover in our sessions for feet. So even if you're not a regular client, you can enjoy the benefit of getting these moves. Access it here to keep your feet feeling strong and adaptable.

Hopefully I’ve opened your awareness to the importance of getting your feet moving regularly in all their ranges. So before you resort to surgery or orthotics as your only solutions, try some strengthening, mobility and releasing exercises to restore your foot function.


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