Exercise. We read that word and immediately think of all the ways people choose to work out: for sports, weight management, recreation, stress management, and countless other reasons. But while athletes take all-around conditioning seriously, how many of us think of exercising our feet to keep them in tip-top shape? After all, we rely on our feet to do just about everything…they are the foundation for the body.
Exercising your feet on a regular basis will help in several ways:
- Improves overall foot health
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Reduce pain throughout the body caused by poor biomechanics, weak muscles and bad posture
- Move with improved strength, balance, control and power.
Below are five exercises you can perform to strengthen your feet:
- Forefoot press
Purpose: The forefront press exercises helps you to strengthen the muscles and tendons of your feet. This helps prevent plantar fasciitis, reduce the risk of athletic injury, and help those in sports develop power.How to perform the exercise:Sitting on the floor, hold a resistance band in both hands and wrap it around your foot. It doesn’t matter what type of band you use, just make sure it provides you with the ability to extend your foot through a full range of motion…not too easy, not too difficult. Start with the foot pulled back and slowly extend the foot forward. As you become more comfortable with this exercise you can also point your toes as you reach full extension. Repeat ten times on each foot. Move up to a heavier band as your foot strength increases.As you perform the exercise consistently, the strength in your extensor tendon will gradually improved you’ll find that you have better control throughout the movement.
- Spreading the toes
Purpose: This exercise involves spreading your toes, which helps to improve posture, stability and balance. Think about the role of the foot in supporting your body throughout the day. A tight, compressed foot, means you’re not engaging the muscles fully.How to perform the exercise:
- Stand or sit with your feet flat on the floor
- Lift all the toes off the floor whole keeping the rest of the foot stationary
- As you lift up the toes, spread them apart as much as you can. Hold for a few seconds. Focus on maximizing the extension between big toe and little toe.
- Gently lower your toes to the floor
- Repeat the steps 10-15 times.
- With practice, you should be able to spread the toes without lifting them up.
You can perform this exercise using both feet, but if your balance needs, work, you can alternate between each foot.
- Lift a pencil with your toes
Purpose: Pencil lifting foot exercise helps to stretch and strengthen the metatarsals.How to perform the exercise:
- Sit on a chair with your back straight up and spread your feet flat on the ground
- Place a pencil in front of your feet
- Pick up the pencil with each foot by squeezing the pencil between your toes.
- Hold the pencil for six seconds
- Rest, and repeat the exercise again. Do this 10 times, and repeat 2-3 times a day.
- Walking on tip toes
Purpose: Walking on tip toes will help you to improve your balance. It strengthens your calf muscle and makes them bigger. and increases flexibility through out the foot and ankle.How to perform the exercise:
- Remove your shoes and stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor
- Stand up slowly on your toes and the balls of your feet
- Walk tip-toeing across the room for 20 seconds at a time
- Perform the exercise 8 times, and repeat twice daily.
- Walking barefoot
Purpose: This one is easy! Walking barefoot helps you exercise the muscles of your feet as your body moves. It will create a greater sense of balance and a lighter foot strike that can help clear up issues related to weak feet and ankles. Walking barefoot also increases the stability of your spine and conditions the muscles that help you stand straight.Many of us strap ourselves into shoes or sandals all day long. To walk barefoot, find opportunities when you it’s possible to kick off your shoes, for example first thing in the morning, or during your evening hours at home. It may take some getting used to if removing shoes is part of your pre-bedtime routine, but you’ll find that it’s an easy habit to develop. Plus, being barefoot is the first step in all of the previous exercises, you you can easily perform them whenever it suits you.
As the supporting structures for the body, the feet should be strong, flexible and stable. These exercises are simple and don’t require any fancy equipment. Perform them consistently and you can prevent potential foot and ankle problems, or even help you alleviate issues you are already experiencing. Start on the path to fitter feet today!
If you have a foot or ankle problem that prevents you from doing these exercises – or other activities – schedule an appointment with Houston Foot and Ankle Care for a full evaluation. Pain and discomfort are not normal. Call (713) 541-3199.