Foot exercises for everyone

Your feet work almost non-stop, every day and, together with the hips, carry most of the body’s weight.  When you have strong ankles, it not only helps to maintain the correct feet posture, but the stronger the muscles in you feet and ankles, the better for your bones (skeletal structure).  Women, often, struggle with bunions, ingrown toenails, and the like, because of the shoes they wear when they are older.  Nothing is worse than wearing shoes that is squeezing the toes and/or foot!  Shoes, however, doesn’t have to look “frumpy” or old fashioned; but it is vital to wear a shape that not only gives the foot room, but also leaves space between the edge of the shoe and the toes.

Foot exercises can be done sitting on a chair, lying in bed, or standing.  Doing these exercises are best starting young but, age should not matter, because it can help everyone, regardless of age.  When you stretch it makes you feel better, relaxes the muscles and you have a good night’s rest or wake up refreshed.  The same applies to your feet.  So, let us have a look at a few exercises and stretches, that you can do anywhere, anytime.

  • Pointing and flexing, is one of the easiest exercises to do, sitting down, lying in bed and standing.  When you point the toes, the top part is stretched whilst the bottom is contracting.  When you flex, the bottom part (including the Achilles tendon), is stretched whilst the top part contracts. 
  • Circling the ankle and foot clockwise, then anti clockwise, is another way to relax the ankle.  This can be done either before or after the above.
  • Placing the feet on the floor, curl your toes (as if you want to pick something up), then relax them again.  This is good for the Metatarsals (small muscles) in the feet.
  • With your feet still placed on the floor, fan your toes out and put them back in original position.  This is a good way to strengthen and stretch the areas in between the toes.
  • Keeping your feet on the ground, try to raise only your big toe whilst the others stay flat.
  • Whether you are sitting or standing, slowly curly your feet off the floor by raising the heels first, then the toes, then putting the toes down, then the rest of the foot.  Imagine wanting to walk on your toes, so to speak but, to do that, you must go slowly.
  • Using a towel or a TheraBand, place it around the toe area, and point and flex into it.  When you flex the toes, you can lean slightly forward (when you are doing this sitting down on the floor) and it will help to stretch your hamstring as well.
  • Standing or sitting down, gently roll your feet inward and outward.  This is strengthening and stretching the sides of the feet, as well as ankles and legs.  Be careful, however, if you do feel any discomfort in your knees when you do this.
  • Nothing beats a foot massage!  However, you can also massage your feet at home by either using a roller, a tennis ball, or a spoon!  Gently rubbing / stroking the area underneath the foot’s bridge, is a wonderful way to release tension and stiffness.  This way not only will the feet relax, but also the deep-seated muscles in both your feet and back of the legs.

Taking care of your feet is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body.  If you start at an early age, then the better.  As mentioned in my previous blog post, the sooner you can fix a problem, the better for the long term.  For example, many children walk with their feet pointed out or turned slightly inward.  This is not good, because the muscles are pulling the knees into unnatural positions, which is not good, as well as putting strain on the hips. 

Another thing that often happens when you walk with your toes pointed out or in, is that some of your leg muscles start to lose their strength, whilst others are over developed.  In some ballet dancers’ cases, the inner thigh muscles can start to “disintegrate” due to the position of the feet, whilst the outer thigh muscles over develop and pulls the knees outward! 

For my dancers and parents with dancers out there; the best thing to do is to consciously walk with your toes pointing forward, when you are not wearing your dancing shoes!  Even if you weren’t dancing but find you still walk with your toes pointing out, reteach yourself to walk with your toes pointing forward.  In cases where a child, for example, walks with his / her toes pointing in, it is best to seek professional help.  Something simple like a supporting cushion and the like, placed inside the shoe, could just be what helps the feet to turn forward.  As for my grown-up readers, just being more aware of the way you walk and making a conscious decision (and effort) to fix it, will already make a big difference. 

For my ladies, we all love a heel!  However, if the heel is too high, not only will it throw your body weight too far forward (onto your toes), but it will also cause your whole spinal column to go out of balance; plus, it is bad not only for your feet, but also your knees and back.  If you do wear heals, opt for ones that is not so high that it elevates your heels in such a way that it looks like you are ready to go on pointe (so to speak).  When you get home, or sit at a desk, take off the heels and swop it for low heels or flat shoes.  When you are at home, opt to walk barefoot or, if it is very cold, put some cosy slippers and/ or socks on.  Give your feet time to rest and relax. 

Lastly, always remember to walk, sit, and stand upright.  Your feet already carry your body weight; thus, by having a good posture, it keeps the feet from having to carry extra weight. Also, think twice before you buy and wear shoes that is too narrow, too pointed or too small for your feet and, as mentioned earlier, try to walk barefoot as much as possible; especially outside…your feet will love you for it!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: