I’m not going to lie. Feet gross me out. I don’t know why anyone would want to be a podiatrist or do pedicures. Yuck! 90% of the population has nasty feet in my opinion. It’s to be expected. Our feet take a beating whether it’s from running, walking, hiking, or skating. Our feet support our body weight and power us through every step. It’s no wonder that injuries to the feet and ankle area is one of the most common for all sports. How many people do you know that have or have had:
- Plantar fascitits
- Achilles tendinitis
- Morton’s Neuroma (numbness in ball of foot and pins and needles in toes
- Stress fractures
- Shin splints
All of these injuries can occur from improper strengthening and stretching of the feet and ankles. Have you ever noticed after a long run how tight your toes and arches feel? I do. I have weak ankles and am prone to spraining my ankle. My arches have been stiff ever since my Barre class on Sunday. I blame all the heal raises while squating. Yowza! I’ve been trying to incorporate some stretching and balance exercises to build up the muscles in my feet and ankles. Do these exercises often especially after running or walking. Some can be done at any point in the day like sitting at your desk, preparing dinner, etc.
Yogi Toe Stretch – Hurts so good! Sit on your knees, feet behind you, toes curled into the ground. Intense stretch in the arch of the foot.
Reclining Hero Pose – Starting in hero. Lower your back toward the floor leaning on hands, forearms and then elbows. In addition to stretching the top of the foot the quadriceps are targeted.
Garland Pose – I’ve mentioned this pose many times before but it is one of my favorites. Once your foot is flat on the floor, it provides a nice stretch through the arch and up the achilles.
Downdog – Aim for getting your feet flat on the floor. Peadling out the feet can also provide a great stretch for the whole lower leg plus hamstrings.
Calf stretch – Targets all heads of the calf muscle. Variations can include dropping the heal off a step or bench.
Exercises to Strengthen the Feet
Heel/toe walks – Walk on your heals for 1 minute. Walk on tip toes for one minute
Ball/marble pick up – Pick up a ball, marble or other small object with your toes. Hold for 30 seconds. Any small object can be substituted. I use a lip gloss pot!
Toe taps – Tap your toes 50 times. Then tap your toes side to side. Music helps but is not necessary.
Alphabet writing – Lift one foot off the ground. With toes pointed, start writing out the alphabet with your big toe. Remember to do both feet.
I had planned on being the model for all of the above exercises. However, this is what happened when I rolled out my yoga mat:
It’s better that I used other images. You can thank Cooper! No one wants to see my ugly feet!
Be sure to check out my latest post for Breathe Magazine on shaping up for spring hiking! I can dream that hiking season is right around the corner, right?
Have a Wonderful Wednesday!