Flexing Your Feet: Exercises That Improve Foot Health (and More)

exercises for foot health

Feet are one of the most-utilized—yet underappreciated—parts of the body. They take a beating every day and bear the bulk of our body weight. They are also intricate parts of the network of tendons, muscles and ligaments that make up our bodies. Despite all of this, however, feet are typically ignored when it comes to stretching and exercise routines.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you get your feet in gear. Take a look at some of these foot exercises to add to your routine and improve your foot health and the overall health of your body (which can be modified for a sitting position for patients with balance issues):

Foot Flex

Resting your heel on the floor with your foot pointing upward, spread your toes and arch them backward as far as possible. Use your hands to gently pull them back if they can’t do it on their own, but not to the point of pain.

This exercise helps to prevent muscle spasms in your foot and helps to strengthen the muscles in your lower legs. As a result, muscles in your lower back are also strengthened, which can reduce any pain you may be experiencing.

Arch Massage

Massaging your arches with a tennis ball can properly recondition the joints in your feet and also help to improve flexibility in your hips and legs.

For one to two minutes per foot:

  • Stand with a tennis ball under your foot
  • Roll the ball around with the bottom of your foot to find any tender spots
  • Roll the ball using the tender portion(s) of your foot

Toe Lift

Place your foot flat on the floor and lift all of your toes while keeping the ball and heel of your foot in place. This stretches the muscles along the front and side of your calf. It also helps to reinforce your posture over time and strengthen your legs.

Tiptoe Stretch

Stand on your tiptoes for about 10 seconds, then slowly ease your feet back to the floor. Repeat 10 times, and hold on to something if you find it difficult to balance. It works by toning up your core, improving your balance and strengthening your lower legs.

Holding this position can aid in significantly improving muscle pains and backaches by aligning your body.

Ankle Circles

Place both feet flat on the floor. Then lift one foot slightly with your toe pointing downward and rotate your ankle in 10 tight circles. Repeat with your other foot.

This exercise loosens connective tissue in your ankle and strengthens the muscles to improve balance and stability. It’s also ideal if you’re looking to get in shape and/or start something like running regularly.

Toe Curls

With both feet flat on the floor, curl your toes inward as tightly as you can. If it’s easier, you can pick up a paper towel with your toes instead.

Toe curls not only help to alleviate any pain you may be feeling due to plantar fasciitis, but it also helps to loosen tense muscles and improve stability.

Toe Tapping

Put both feet flat on the ground and gently place your weight on the inside of your feet. Then lift all of your toes except your big toes. When you’re done, place your weight on the outside of your feet and lift only your big toes.

By performing this exercise, you’re essentially re-teaching your foot to arch, an ability you may have lost over time. It will improve your gait and help you comfortably walk longer distances.

Foot Rolls

Place your feet flat on the ground, then roll one foot outward and gently place weight on it. After a few seconds, switch to your other foot. This helps your ankle joint to reduce pain in your foot.

Toe Stretch

With the hand opposite to the foot you choose, interlock your fingers and toes and lightly tug. While doing so, roll your ankle in small semi-circles. Repeat with the opposite foot.

Performing toe stretches loosens the plantar fascia and relaxes the joints in your lower leg and ankle.

Remember: Our feet and ankles play a vital role in our posture and proprioception, a fancy way to describe the awareness of where your body parts are and the effort required to move. Therefore, it’s imperative to be monitored especially after foot and ankle sprains; an overlooked injury can escalate into something much worse, which can mean big trouble for the rest of you.

So, if you experience pain, stiffness or discomfort in your feet or ankles despite exercise, it is highly recommended that you schedule an appointment for an evaluation with a specialist.

For more information on foot exercises or to schedule an appointment, contact Essex Union Podiatry today.