We all know feet can be neglected and beaten with our day-to-day activities. Action or inaction can cause serious bad habits, injuries and dysfunctional mechanics if you’re not taking care of them. These injuries lead to other injuries such as knees and back. Knee pain can be a show stopper in any kind of activities while back or lower back pain will definitely halt your daily routine. Come into play the need get strong and healthy with feet exercises.
Strong Healthy Feet With Exercises Start With A Focus On Your Foot Muscles
Two Types of Muscles In Your Feet
Should come up with an imbalance in your musculature or mechanic, you can expect your range of motion will decrease resulting in alteration in your running style and your walking gait. Those will be the pre-cursor to injuries much more serious and trigger pain such as plantar fasciitis.
There are two types of muscles in your feet. Those two types of muscles are extrinsic and intrinsic muscles.
The extrinsic foot muscles are connected from the foot to the leg. There is only on attachment between the two. What these muscles will do is to move your foot relative to your lower leg. As an illustration of what we are saying; the three calves muscles are all extrinsic.
What makes the difference between the intrinsic foot muscles and the extrinsic foot muscles is that the intrinsic have both ends attached inside the foot. With the intrinsic muscles they operate by moving one portion of the foot relative to other foot joints. The perfect example of a intrinsic muscle is the abductor digiti minimi which is tasked to move your pinkie toe out and away from the other toes.
Muscles will feel squeezed and shut down, when you put them in a shoe for a prolonged period of time. They will atrophy rapidly if you don’t get them to work and get the blood flowing in them. As an example, an inactive intrinsic muscle that has all the required motor skills will likely atrophy while the extrinsic (larger muscle) one will automatically compensate and work the double of its normal work load. As it prolongs the extrinsic muscles will will be overused to the point where pain and tension will develop resulting in further complications.
The Importance of Exercising Your Feet
The importance of having strong and healthy feet with exercises is always dependent of a few factors. The first one that comes to mind is if you have a foot injury already or a disability preventing the use of your feet. But if you can stand do any or these actions which are: standing on your two feet, walk, run, jog and jump then you can do foot exercises daily and it won’t take much of your time. In fact, you can do them on a break at work or even while sitting at your desk. Not exercising your feet can result in a simple incident like an ankle sprain.
When looking at the muscle groups of your feet, it is surprising to see that they make 25% of the whole body muscles mass. Ignoring them will result in the loss of strength and their function in your feet as well as ankles. Not doing any feet exercises is like abandoning any upper body workouts and exercise.
When establishing a workout program for your feet. you need to incorporate exercises that will innervate the intrinsic foot muscles. The innervation will bring back the length of the lower leg muscles. This is extremely important to avoid further complications later on. What is important to remember if the foot muscles are strong it will instill proper foot mechanics, gait patterns, ankle stabilization, and whole-body balance. Strong and healthy with feet exercises revolves directly around these fundamentals.
We often think of our toes as part of our accessories to our feet. You need to remember that your toes are designed to have the same dexterity as your fingers. The toe joints can do the same functions which are flexing, extending, abducting and adducting. As simple these motions are they are essentials for the proper foot mechanics to take place. In addition, when attempting to move one toe by itself, you will find it is very difficult to do without moving the adjacent toes.
Strong Healthy Feet With Exercises – Types of Exercises
The importance of starting a strengthening program for your feet to improve balance and agility can’t be emphasized enough. Once you start, it continues until you feel and see that you have recovered the motor skills lost over time. From that point on, you can perform movements proving you are strong and fit on your feet.
Let’s look at some of the foot exercises, you can easily do young or old.
Toe lifts are very simple and very useful. With your two feet flat on the ground, try lift your big toe repeatedly without lifting the other toes. Continue the repetitions until you can do it continuously in a fluid motion.
Toe Raise Exercise
When our feet are snug into our shoes, they don’t get the movement and space needed to move and keep their strength. This restrain results in the toe abductors to be weak while the adductors become tight. With that limitation on your toe abductors, and the tightness adductors it will prevent your toes to spread wide naturally.
To exercise your toe abductors stand up barefoot and put the weight on your heels. Now, lift your toes. Once lifted spread your toes away from each other without lifting them off the ground. Continue until the movement is fluid.
Stretching the Toe Flexors
In order to stretch the toe flexors, stand up and reach one leg behind. Placing the top of the foot on the ground, relax and stretch your ankle. You may experience some cramping. If it is the case, take a break and return to the stretch. The aim for this exercise is to work yourself up to holding 1 minute on each side.
Strengthen Bottom of your Feet
Strengthening the bottom of your feet may sound lame, but believe me it is not. For strengthening the bottom of your feet, you can use pebbles on the ground. This is simple, all you have to do is pick up the pebbles with your toes, one by one. One other exercise seen in therapy is the use of a towel you scrunch with your toes. As you are doing it, try to feel the muscle at the bottom of your feet, you’ll sense the working muscles easily.
Foot Circles and Points with Therabands
Therabands are often by physiotherapists in rebuilding strength in our limbs. It is a great way to strength shoulders, wrists, and arms but it can also do the same for your feet. The Therabands will help improve the range of motion. In today’s age, many foot problems happen due to a limited range of motion and flexibility in the ankle and surrounding muscles. Using a door handle you can go around your ankle, then tie the two ends together at the handle. With your foot in the loop, you can exercise the range of motion in every direction while the Theraband provides the required resistance.
Note: Each color represent a different amount of resistance. Start with a low resistance and increase as it becomes easier. Using the foot flex-and-point exercise and foot circles, you will be able to exercise many muscles in your feet and ankles and the range will greatly improved. This is useful when you suffer a sprained ankle.
As your range of motion increases take the Theraband and loop it around your foot. Have your foot pull on the band to create enough challenging tension, and do 20 points and flexes, followed by 20 circles clockwise, and 20 circles counter clockwise. You will definitely feel the muscles working. Then repeat for the other foot. If you find one foot much weaker, repeat on the weaker side one more time, until you get both sides evenly strong.
When the time is appropriate, walking barefoot will actually strengthen your foot muscles. Being barefoot, you feel the ground differently and your balance will actually improve. Your light foot strike will also improve. Again, try to be selective on the type of ground you walk bare feet on.
Heel Raises are actually a really good exercise for your feet, ankle and your arches. Standing up on a flat floor, facing a wall at approximately 2 feet from it, raise your heels together so at the end of the movement, you are tippy-toe. This exercise can be done also on one foot for more challenge. It can also be done on the edge of a step preferably on the bottom step of your stairs. Please ensure you hold on to the railing, if you are doing this exercise.
Revitalize Your Feet
Finally, we wouldn’t be honoring our web site’s aim, if we didn’t take the time in recommending to revitalize your tired and beaten feet. After strengthening and stretching your feet, you can massage them and also soak them followed by an application of a nice foot cream.
Exercising the arches of your foot is a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis. There are several ways to work the plantar fascia. The most popular one is with a ball, you can roll with your arch. It will apply that pressure needed and it will massage the fascia. Anything round will do, but you can get the right size ball and texture right here.
Massage Rollers for Arches
We want to re-emphasize the fact that strengthening your feet muscles are essential for a healthy living. Sore feet can brutally put a stop to your activities. It is easier, if you can prevent injuries by doing all you can to prevent them with these exercise for strength and improvement to your range of motion. These exercises we mentioned, are simple to do at any time of the day by anyone who needs to bring that strength in their feet and ankles.
Having strong healthy feet with exercises as part of your daily routine will reduce further issues with your biomechanics and prevent more complications.
Terry is podiatrist in the United States and is regular contributor to Foot Revitalize. His vast expertise in the foot care industry is a valuable asset to Foot Revitalize. He has been a podiatrist for the last 6 years.