A Pilates Master’s Fascination: Foot & Gait

by Leslie Braverman on July 26, 2014

The Foot — in Action

PNWP Owner Melanie Byford-Young is an expert in her own right, and, like passionate trailblazers, she never stops learning. That’s one of the traits that makes her such a sought-after teacher. Melanie will be teaching a foot-and-gait workshop for PT, medical and therapeutic Pilates professionals this September in Portland, Oregon. Here, she shares a little insight into the marvelous foot. 


I am in awe of the foot. It fascinates me.

We take it for granted. Our feet sport hot heels and sleek pedicures. They run races. They carry us to our dreams.

But what stirs me is how the foot works and what it does. The foot is a rigid lever that propels forward movement, and, in a split second, unlocks to become a mobile adapter to provide our balance.

The feet and ankles of Michelangelo’s “David.” In 2014, BBC News announced that Michelangelo’s statue of David risks collapsing under its own weight because of strain on the sculpture’s “weak ankles.”

The foot dictates and responds to every action in the body. If it fails to adapt to the surface it treads below — or to the body’s motion above it — there’s a breakdown.

Understanding and improving foot mechanics is crucial for me as a Pilates Master Instructor with deep roots in physiotherapy, as it is to anyone working in rehabilitation, strength and conditioning. I am absolutely dismayed when clients arrive wearing inappropriate orthotics or shoes, following misguided advice or fads. i see issues that originate in the spine and create problematic adaption in the foot, or the reverse.

In 2009, I had a personal eye-opener. I ruptured my Achilles tendon while playing tennis. What a phenomenal new set of insights that particular mishap provided! A long road to recovery illustrated my own motor strategies and compensations. At one time, I could not feel my foot when running or during quick motions.

The Pilates Reformer was instrumental in my recovery. I found the “sleeper” exercise particularly useful, because it helped link all of the kinetic chain, reintegrating glute and calf muscles.  Though my recovery has been fantastic, I still work on balance and neuromotor integration.

“Only through truly understanding the biomechanics of the foot — and the interactions of all the joints and tissues of the body — can one truly unwind and restore healthy dynamic feet. This is what I love to teach and share.” 

In September, I will be teaching an intensive weekend of workshops to examine the foot, gait and running. At the very heart of the workshop will be observing the foot and the body in action, then linking those observations and applying practical Pilates solutions. The great beauty of the weekend will be an opportunity to learn by integrating information and practice.

I invite movement and therapeutic professionals who share my wonder and fascination to attend.


Melanie Byford-Young

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call Brette for details: (503) 292-4409.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kearsten Lyon August 11, 2016 at 3:53 pm


I’m intersted in coming to your foot workshop! Do you have any details re time/date/price?

I live in Toronto, I’m a Movement Therapist/Therapeutic Pilates Instructor…I would need to make arrangements asap.

Thank you!


Leslie Braverman August 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

Hello Kearsten,

Thank you so much for your interest in the Therapeutic Pilates: Foot & Gait workshop. We would be pleased to have you join us.

Here is the information you requested:

The workshop will take place at our studio in Portland on Saturday, Sept 17, 1-6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept 18, 10 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. The price is $425 and includes detailed materials.
I will have Brette get in touch with you this week to help you make further arrangements and answer your questions. Feel free to call us at 503-292-4409.

For more information, please see http://pacificnwpilateseducation.com/training/workshops-2016

Yours in Health,


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