Every day, our feet take a serious beating. They bear the weight of the body and are usually forced into unsupportive, restrictive footwear such as heels and flats. Then, they are slammed into hard surfaces for hours on end as we walk, run, jump, etc. Pain is typically the result of such abuse and makes everyday activities difficult to accomplish.
If youíre looking to show your feet some TLC, alleviating pain in the process, here are five exercises you can try to keep your feet in tip-top shape (no matter how much you put them through):
1) Standing calf raises
Whether youíre rocking stilettos or kicking it back on the beach with unsupportive footwear, you can protect your ankle joints from weakening with standing calf raises.
In three sets of 20 reps:
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart
- Gradually rise to the balls of your feet from a normal standing position
- Lower the heels of your feet back to the ground
2) Tennis ball massage
When youíre consistently putting on shoes that arenít supportive, you usually end up clenching the bottoms of your feet and your toes to compensate for support or stability. As a result, your feet can become stiff and uncomfortable. A tennis ball massage can properly recondition the joints in your feet.
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 the foot
3) Towel scrunches
If you wear heels often, you can end up giving the tiny muscles that start and stop below the ankle a run for their money. Reinforcing them is key to keeping pain away and your toes in balance.
Repeat three times, 30 seconds per foot:
- Place a paper towel flat on the ground
- Continuously pick up and release the paper towel using only your toes
4) Toe extensions
Toe extensions serve a two-fold purpose: They help to relieve any pain and stiffness you may have in the muscles of your foot from poor footwear (e.g., flip-flops) and determine how much exercise your feet need based on how difficult they are to perform. The harder it is, the more exercise your feet regularly require.
Per foot (as often as you like):
- Attempt to lift only your big toe while leaving the remaining toes on the ground
- Keep your big toe on the ground and raise the remaining toes
5) Calf stretches with a resistance band
After a long night of partying in your pumps or a longer day of work in your wedges, these seated calf stretches can help decrease the risk of the calf muscles shortening, which causes pain in your legs and feet.
Repeat three times per foot:
- Sit with your legs extended and heels on the floor
- Wrap a resistance band around the ball of your foot and pull the band toward you while keeping your leg straight
- Hold that position for 30 seconds
As always, should pain, stiffness or discomfort in your feet or ankles persist despite exercise, scheduling an appointment for an evaluation with a specialist is highly recommended.
For more information on foot exercises or proper footwear, or to schedule an appointment, contact Essex Union Podiatry today.