Our feet are complex structures that make up 25% of the bones in our body with each foot containing 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.
When one of these main components that make up your feet are weakened, your body will start to compensate for you to continue to walk and be on your feet. However, weakened foot muscles and faulty foot mechanics lead to foot pain and foot-related injuries.
Here are 5 exercises you can perform daily to build a strong foundation for your body starting at your feet! These movements activate many of the main muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot, making them more mobile and stronger while reducing your risk of foot pain.
- Rolling Foot On a Lacrosse/Tennis Ball (Massage):
Perform this exercise while standing on both feet. There are two parts to this exercise. First, place one foot over the ball and gently apply as much pressure as you can tolerate pushing the ball into the floor, rolling back and forth from your heel to the ball of the foot below the toes. Perform this exercise for 1 min each foot. Then, place the ball below your toes (ball of your foot) and roll your foot over ball going side to side. Perform this exercise for 1 min each foot.
- Ankle Circles (Flexibility):
Perform this exercise while sitting or lying down. Starting with one foot, turn your ankle slowly in circles clockwise and counter-clockwise for 20 reps in each direction. Repeat for the other foot. You may also write out the alphabet with each foot instead of doing circles.
- Ankle/Calf Raises with a ball: (Strengthening):
Perform this exercise while standing on both feet. Place a tennis or lacrosse ball between both ankles at the heels. Raise both ankles while squeezing the heels to raise the ball, lifting yourself up onto your toes and then slowly coming back down. Perform 15 reps, 1-2 sets. If you’re up for a challenge, perform this exercise on one leg (with no ball) or hold weights.
- Towel Scrunches (Strengthening):
Lay a towel flat on the floor and sit with one foot resting on the towel. Try and draw the towel towards you by scrunching your toes while keeping the heel in contact with the floor. Then release your toes. Perform 15 reps each foot, 1-2 sets.
- Toe Spreads (Stretch):
Perform this exercise standing. Place feet flat on the floor. Spread the toes as far as they will go and then return them together. Perform 15 reps, 1-2 sets.
Here are some animated demonstrations:
It is normal to find some of these exercises to be a bit challenging at first but if you perform these movements consistently, you will begin to notice a difference and see improvements over time.