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IS4U - The Kneading Feelization

The Unintended Consequences of Wearing Shoes

Since you are walking down the Integrated Strength path I think its important to take a good look at your feet. If you are like me they more closely resemble the 'normal' image on the left then they do the natural image on the right of the illustration below.

Compare what 'normal' western shod feet look like after a number of years under pressure.
Normal vs Natural Feet

Long story short most of our feet need work. Unlike our hands, which are in constant, unconstrained use, our feet remain crammed inside shoes most of the day. Even when we go barefoot it is usually on flat, finished surfaces that our easy on our fragile feet. Normal is somewhat dysfunctional in most feet and reacquainting ourselves with them can have numerous benefits.

We need to build more aware-nesses of how our weight transfers from foot to foot, how we work with the pull of gravity to locomote, how the we are designed to be 'single weighted', how the muscle chains interpolate to thee our frames integrated & balanced and more.

The Kneading Feelization helps us get in touch with our feet, ankles, legs & hips by watching cute cat videos.

Deceptively simple, this exercise helps us to cultivate a better connection to the earth. The Feelization imagery is a cat kneading on a blanket or something similar. Watch the video below and notice how the cats involve their whole body in the motion. Notice the simultaneous contraction and release cycles in each paw that extend all the way to their spines. Notice how the cats combine stretching and contracting in their movements. Notice their absorption in the activity.

Guided Practice & More Tips on the Kneading Feelization

Some additional videos that are available that focus on and/or include the Kneading Feelization are:

From some old notes....
Kneading Feelization

Practice Prescription

Our job in this exercise is to mimic what the cat does when it kneads a pillow or blanket. Over time we will be able to gain greater control over the gripping action of our feet. Eventually this gripping action will become an unconscious habit, a natural part of our stepping skill. The old saying of 'two legs become one' comes to mind. I recommend familiarizing yourself with this exercise while barefoot or wearing only socks. Once you are comfortable with it try it while wearing various pairs of shoes. With some experimentation you may find that certain types or brands of shoes give you greater freedom of foot flexibility....its these types of shoes that should be your first choice for shoes to practice in.

Remember that the purpose of this exercise is to gain more and more conscious control over our feet, restore the range of motion and use those changes to cultivate a deeper root in our standing and footwork.

Here are some of the ways we can utilize Kneading Feelization:

  • At the beginning of a formal training session to wake up the feet and legs

  • While resting between sets of strenuous exercises

  • During standing practice

  • While standing at my desk, working on my computer

  • While standing around chatting with people and/or waiting in line

  • On long plane rides, car rides or extended time sitting (yes you can do it sitting down)

As with most exercises and Feelizations its good to dedicate some of your formal practice time for a period. Eventually it blends into the rest of our practice, but there is nothing stopping us from brining it out from time to time for a refresher. As you may have guessed from the bullets above Kneading makes a fantastic Casual Practice.

It can be done almost anywhere any time without attracting the judgmental attention of onlookers. You may look a little fidgety, but who isn't when waiting in line at the store or waiting to get on a plane?

Practice Tips - Changes in the Feeling State

A primary way of testing whether or not you are getting results from Kneading the Ground is to observe changes in how you feel. Here are a few examples of what to look for:

  • The spreading of the toes should initiate a stretching feeling that extends all the way through your hip. It feels like you are reaching for a hold on the ground instead of falling onto it.

  • There is no ‘double weighting’ meaning the body weight in never equally divided between the feet. As one foot grabs the ground the other pops off like a suction cup being pulled away from the glass.

  • Stepping feels like pulling yourself into the ground instead of pushing away from it.

  • The unweighted leg is not limp but coiled….exhibiting a balance between stretching and contracting.

  • Over time we are looking to incorporate Kneading the Ground into your habitual movement pattern meaning you should not have to think about it.

  • When walking or standing around the feeling of kneading should be subtle and not really noticeable to an outside observer.

Share your experiences!

Use the comment section below to share how you make this practice work for you!

Quick Links for your convenience:

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