Lateral longitudinal arch. Transverse arch. Medial longitudinal arch.
No, these are not parts of buildings, bridges, or buttresses. These are structures of your feet!
When you press into the “ball” of the big toe (or the “big toe mound,” the head of the first metatarsal) and into the inner bottom heel, you’ll find the inner (medial) arch of the foot. When we talk about “arch support,” we usually mean this one.
The big secret, which is not so secret in yoga, is that there are two more significant arches in the foot. To find the outer (lateral) arch: stand on your feet, press into the little toe mound (base of the 5th metatarsal) and the into the outer bttom heel. The area between your pinky toe and outer heel with lift! Voila! Arch #2. This one is harder to find.
Lastly, the one that’s caught my interest is the transverse arch. It goes across the foot. Sounds simple enough…. True confessions: I’ve been trying to feel this arch in the wrong spot, all this time. Shocking, I know!
It took me geeking out on The Anatomy Coloring Book (Kapit and Elson), coloring in the bones of the feet, touching the bones of my foot, and then … victory! Finding the third arch. Much lower in the foot than I expected. I confess, I’ve been searching for it, fruitlessly, up nearer to the toes!
I’m coloring my way through this fantastic book as part of my prep for the upcoming course on the skeletal system with the School for Body-Mind Centering(TM) “Embodied Anatomy for Yoga” program. More on this very soon, I’m sure. For now, I can tell you that coloring as a method for learning the names, shape, location, and relationship of body parts REALLY works for me.
Okay, so here we go. With your fingers, feel along the pinky-side edge of your foot until you come to a bump that kind of sticks out about half-way or a bit more towards your heel. This is the tuberosity (at the base of the 5th metatarsal). Now, standing on the foot, press into the ball of the big toe, and into the base of the pinky toe. Feel the arch lifting, across the width of the sole of the foot, about at the level where you felt the tuberosity. There it is! Feel the toes relaxed, streaming away from the foot along the floor in front of you.
Now do this again, fully standing in Tadasana, mountain pose, or Samasthiti, equal standing pose, and working with both feet. Marvel at the way the entire body lifts upward in response. That this is our foundation of support while standing and walking. Amazing.