Our feet are more important than we give them credit for. As we mentioned in our blog: Foot Posture and Functional Orthotics, our feet act as the foundation for the rest of our body and transfer its force to the ground. Weak feet can cause pain in other areas such as the hips and back as the body compensates for the work the feet are not doing. If your feet are causing problems there are several important steps to take. Chiropractic treatments can bring the body back into alignment and reversing the effects of over-pronation. A quality pair of functional orthotics can control pronation and provide support and comfort. To support both these steps, and the general health of your feet, doing simple regular foot exercises is also important. To improve the strength and posture of your feet, try the simple exercises below.
Simple Exercises for Stronger Feet:
This exercise improves balance and strengthens the muscles rotating lengthwise through the arch. Sit on a chair with good posture, your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Place a small towel under your left foot. Grip the towel by curling your forefoot and toes and lift it by raising the arch of you foot off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times then repeat with your right foot. -Other small objects such as a sock or marbles also work.
Short Foot Exercise
This exercise works on the muscles and tendons that support the arch, building stability, strength and endurance. Sit in a chair with good posture, placing both feet flat on the floor at a 90 degree angle, your toes pointing straight forward. Begin with one foot. Flex the muscles though the arch without curling your toes. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat the exercise before switching to the other foot. Then, place your feet further out and, one foot at a time repeat the exercise. Keep moving your feet out and repeating the exercise until you have completed it 5 times on each foot.
The calf raise improves balance while strengthening the feet and calves. Stand with feet forward, gently holding onto a tabletop or door frame for balance. Rise up onto your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Then lower slowly and repeat 10 times. Switch feet and repeat.
Another one for improving balance, this exercise also prevents the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia from getting tight. On the floor sit with one leg stretched flat in front of you. Wrap a towel or Thera Band around the ball of your foot. Pull the towel or band back slowly until you feel your calf and the arch of your foot stretch. Hold this for 60 seconds, then release. Repeat this with your other foot.
Sit or stand with your feet flat on the floor. With our curling your toes or moving your ankle, press your toes down into the floor. Hold this for 3 seconds, and repeat 10 times. To improve over time, hold for longer.
With your feet flat on the floor then lift, as best you can, one toe up at a time, while keeping the others flat on the floor. Repeat 3 times.
Sit with feet flat on the floor. Spread your toes as far as you can, then bring them back together. Repeat 10 times, rest, then do another 2 sets of 10.
This one is great for assessing progress. Line up a suitable book and a set of weighing scales so beside each other they create a flat, even surface. Place your foot with the back half on the book and the front half on the scales. Press your forefoot onto the scales and see how much force you generate. Recording this number can help you to monitor progress as your foot strengthens over time. Repeat 10 times for each foot.
This exercise will strengthen the structures that support the arches of your feet. In the pool’s shallow end, sprint from one side to the other. Push off with your feet as hard as you can with each step you take. Pushing off with the added water resistance stresses the muscles a bit more than running on solid ground. To increase the level of resistance try this exercise in chest-deep water. To really work those muscles this exercise can be done on sand, but it is best to work up to it to avoid injury, as sand running pushes the muscles a lot harder.
If you want more exercises to stretch out your muscles read our blog: Effective Use of Your Spikey Massage Ball, which features an excellent foot and calf release exercise.