We spent lot’s of time talking about the hands and arms and even occasionally the legs. But we rarely discuss the ever important feet. We use our feet all of the time – to walk, run, jog, bike, hike and more. A strong foot is generally a healthy foot, so let’s look at some exercises for your feet. We’re going to do these exercises barefoot to increase your sensory input – which also helps your postural stability. Unless you have reduced sensation in your feet, keep your shoes on; otherwise I recommend taking your shoes and socks off.
Spread the Toes
Stand barefoot on wood, tile, cement or other similar floor. Extend and spread your toes apart, leaving as much space as you can between your toes. Repeat 3-5 times with each foot.
Extend and lift the big toe while all the other toes (toes 2-5) remain on the floor.
Lift and lower each toe 2, 3, 4, then 5 while the others remain down.
Do each foot separately, then try with both feet together.
Roll a Ball
With a tennis ball (or similar size ball) roll in under the middle part of your foot from the ball to the heel and back. Next roll it back and forth going from the inside to outside, outside to inside, moving from the ball to the heel of your foot. Next roll the ball from your heel to the toes – rolling from heel to the tip of each toe.
With a pile of marbles on the floor pick up each marble with the toes and move it to create another pile. Repeat several times with both feet.
Big and Little Toes
First lift all your toes. Next try to press the big toe, then little toe down to the floor while the others stay lifted and straight. Finally straighten and lift your toes then press the big and little toe down to the floor keeping the other 3 toes lifted. Try it with both feet.
On your knees, tuck your feet so your toe pads (not toenails) are pressed into the floor. Sit back on your heels if you can. Stay 15-30 seconds gradually increasing to 1 minute. A folded blanket can be rested along the calves to the heels to sit on or you can put the blanket under your knees if kneeling is uncomfortable. This is a good stretch for foot muscles in your arch and the plantar fascia ligament.
There are several fitness classes which you do barefoot – yoga, Pilates, barre class and Tai Chi are some. Taking the time several days a week to exercise your foot muscles not only increases the strength and flexibility in your feet, but your improving your sensory feedback and postural stability too. Try building them in to something you do often like watching TV or the listening to news. Once you get past a little soreness and start feeling more successful doing the exercises you’ll be so glad and your feet will thank you!