Regular exercise is one of the key factors to maintaining good health. Consistent cardio, stretching and weight training give you energy and stamina, keeping your bones strong and your muscles active. So it’s no surprise that this extends to the health of your feet! Regular exercise for your feet not only keeps them feeling good, but it also supports the foot and ankle system. ‘Fascia casings’ made of collagen act like belts around the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones of the foot and ankle. Keeping this ‘system’ in good working order allows your feet to thrive and tackle whatever you throw at them, whether it’s walking barefoot on sand, climbing stairs, or cycling.
6 Foot Exercises To Strengthen Your Feet
These simple exercises don’t require any special gear or equipment – but a chair and a tennis ball will be helpful. Give them a try and see which ones work best for you!
Tennis Ball Roll
Start your foot workout with a gentle technique that targets tension spots in the foot. Sitting upright in a chair, press your foot upon a tennis ball (or another type of similar-sized flexible ball) and roll it around. Let the springy ball push into your foot muscles, massaging them, and pay attention to the sensations. Are the balls of your feet very sensitive? Is there a particular area you need to return to again and again to relax it completely? Take your time and feel the release from toe to heel.
Full Range Toe Motion
Each of your little piggies play a role in your overall balance and body strength. Don’t they deserve to be singled out and stretched? In your seated position, keep your heels planted on the floor and actively splay your toes out as wide as they will separate. Repeat ten times. Then, pull each foot up to its opposite knee and individually stretch each toe back toward the shin. You should feel a satisfying deep stretch in the toe muscles. You may also feel tension in the foot arch as you do this, because as explained above, all the tissue is intricately connected. So we recommend gripping the arch of your foot with the other hand and massaging gently to make sure the stretch stays supple and elastic, rather than causing harm with an abrupt pull that could stress an arch muscle.
Foot arches are integral to the ‘spring in your step.’ They keep your body bouncing along as you walk, and they hurt when your feet get tired. So stretching them out and strengthening their muscles definitely works to improve your gait and just to feel good below the knee!
While seated, lift your arches as high as you can, and curl your toes underneath the foot as far as you can. Imagine that a marble could roll under the balls of your feet in the space you create. Then flex the feet, closing that gap and feeling the strength of your toes activating the muscles on the tops of your feet. Repeat ten times.
Achilles Heel Stretch
If you know how to do a calf stretch, you’ll easily be able to figure out the Achilles heel stretch – you just need to adjust your body to bring the stretch lower. Stand with one leg forward and the other bent at the knee behind you. You may want to hold onto the back of a chair to stabilize your body. Then straighten the back knee until you feel a stretch that gently pulls at the Achilles heel.
If you’re still only feeling a calf stretch, dip the knee again and keep adjusting until you know you’re pulling at the ankle muscles. Try lowering your heel completely toward the ground to deepen the stretch. Then try alternating between stretching the calf and the Achilles heel – helping to integrate the muscle groups together.
Are you one of those people who can easily pick things up with their toes? Well, you should know that it’s not just a party trick - you’re also doing foot exercises! Keeping your toes healthy means using the muscles to their full capacity, and picking up a towel between your toes does just that!
Place a towel on the floor in front of you while seated and scrunch the towel between your toes, feeling all the muscles working hard. Do one foot at a time so that you can really concentrate, and if you want to get creative – lift the towel up and see if you can toss it across the room!
Anti-Plantar Fasciitis Stretch
Podiatrists are frequently treating Plantar Fasciitis, the painful foot condition that manifests with excruciating heel pain that seems to stab you out of nowhere. It’s caused by repetitive impact and can be exacerbated by unsupportive shoes and lack of stretching. If you have this condition, or if you want to avoid it, this is a simple stretch that will help.
In a seated position, place one foot on top of the opposite leg and gently pull all your toes toward your shin. You’ll feel the pull along your entire foot – arch included – but focus on the base of the heel, using the other hand to identify that muscle and gently massage it. Even doing this exercise a few times a week can keep you from experiencing one of the most common foot problems out there.
Summing It All Up
Doing some or all of these exercises regularly will help your feet feel great, but don’t forget to wear supportive socks and shoes! ArchTek®’s support socks are built to keep the foot healthy from toe to heel, so check out our patented system and find out how it can benefit you and help relieve any foot pain you might be experiencing.