From a CTV-Vancouver news segment with Dr. Rhonda Low

Your feet provide support for the entire body, so it's important to keep them healthy. And there's a new fitness trend that attempts to do just that. It involves foot routines with some unusual-looking apparatus.

It may look a little unusual, but these women are stretching and strengthening their feet. "It improves the way you walk in any shoe,” says Taylore B. Carre.
It's called Yamuna and the foot fitness trend is hitting gyms and yoga studios across the country. "So the focus of this work is to elongate and to make space and to create a freer, more energetic body," says Carre, a Yamuna body-rolling teacher.

All with the help of these rubber domes, called foot wakers. Balancing on the domes can strengthen arches, increase range of motion and stretch muscles in the calves, thighs, hips and lower back.

“The benefit of this work is whether you're wearing flats, bare feet, midheels, whatever it is, re-educating the person's foot so you're able to articulate in a healthy manner," says Carre.

But while the exercises claim to take the pain out of wearing high heels, some experts say it may give women the wrong idea. "I think women need to be aware that there are some foot types that can't tolerate a high heel shoe under any circumstances," says podiatrist Dr. David Brooks. Dr. Brooks says no amount of stretching can save your feet from the damage caused by wearing high heel shoes. “The foot is in this position in a high heel shoe, rather than the whole surface of the foot baring weight - the force is focused on the ball of the foot,” says Dr. Brooks. And squeezing your foot into a fashionable stiletto can pinch nerves, cause bunions and hammertoes.

Still, some women say the exercises have made a huge difference. "I can wear any shoes I want 24-7,” says Linda Winterton, one of the students. “I can dance all night in a pair of shoes." "All reflexology points are being stimulated and gives you an energy boost," says fellow student Micheline Gauthier. The classes also make people more aware of how they should walk.

"Really, in a perfect world, you would hit with the heel of your foot, rotate a little to the lateral side, out to the small toes side, and then roll through the side of the ball to the foot to the big toe," says Taylore. But even if you aren't walking in perfect form, the 15-minute sessions can bring attention to an often-neglected part of the body. And make walking a mile in less than comfortable shoes a little easier.

"We really should be able to wear the whole range of shoes, whether it be flat, barefoot, small heel, high heel,” says Taylore. “We should feel freedom in our foot."

Dr. Rhonda Low's additional comments:

Can Yamuna be harmful to you?

It can be a little uncomfortable at first. Overall, the exercises cannot do you harm because they're basically stretching and strengthening your feet. It can be beneficial for everyone, including people who suffer from Plantar Fascitis.
If you wear high heels, what else can you do to protect your feet?

  • Most muscles that control the feet are in the calf and lower leg – you can do specific exercises that strengthen calves and the front of shins
  • Switch between wearing high heels to flats often
  • Do exercises that develop your sense of balance
  • There are long-term consequences of wearing high heels, including the shortening of calf muscles – be sure to stretch your calves & Achilles Tendon.

Purchase foot fitness and body rolling products