the foreleg

by julee snyder

Moving up the leg from the foot we come to the foreleg.  There are two bones in the lower leg – the tibia and the fibula. The tibia is possibly the straightest bone in the body and serves as the pillar of the lower leg.  Vision an  architectural column distributing the weight from the upper body down to the foot.  It sits above and to the medial side of the talus forming the inner ankle, whereas the fibula serves as the outer ankle and can be palpated along the side of the leg to just below the knee.  The fibula is a thin spiralic bone.  It’s function reflects it’s structure.  It is the steering bone of the lower leg.  Remember that bones are alive, blood-filled and responsive.  The fibula helps to mediate uneven surfaces from the foot up to the knee.

So how does this influence your practice?   Begin to connect the tibia to the ankle-foot and the first three toes.  Connect the fibula to the heel-foot and the outer two toes.  If you’ve begun a practice of brushing your feet, continue up into the lower leg.  As you begin to root into the four points of the foot, feel how the arches support the pillar of the lower leg.  Great poses for this are tadasana (mountain pose) and bridge.  You can also notice it in the front leg of lunges and warriors.

To feel the effects of the fibula, begin to invert and evert the foot.  What does that mean?  Flex your foot and reach with the little toe side and then from the big toe side.  Once you have the movement down, begin to notice the role the fibula plays in facilitating this movement.  As you reach the little toe side of the foot away, you will likely feel the fibula spiral backwards.  This is what is happening to roll the little toe to the floor in triangle and warrior poses.

Another great place to integrate an awareness of the foreleg into practice is when the shins are on the ground.  Table, virasana, and camel are excellent examples.  Actively press the foreleg into the ground.  Let the front of the ankle open to the earth, spreading the top of the foot, and rooting the tops of the toes.  This creates a solid base of support.  If the ankles don’t easily move to the floor, roll a towel or blanket underneath of them and press into the roll.  They will slowly begin to open.

Happy practicing!