If we want the rest of our body to function well we should look at our foot fitness and consider specific exercises to maintain mobility.
Each foot contains 26 bones, as well as 33 joints, 19 muscles, 10 tendons and 107 ligaments. These all work together to support the weight of your body, act as natural shock absorbers, keep you balanced, and push you forward with each stride.
Each foot takes 1.5 times your body weight while you walk. But our feet are an often neglected part of our body. If we want the rest of our body to function well we need to consider what is going on at our feet and improve our foot fitness!
Feet function best in their bare, or natural state, when the heel and forefoot are level. Your toes need to freely flex, extend and spread. Shoes commonly elevate the heel and constrict the movement of the toes.
Did you know?
- Women are four times more likely to have foot problems compared to men, mostly because we like to wear high heels.
- The most commonly reported foot ailments include nail problems, plantar fasciitis, and pain in the balls or heels of the feet.
- Decades of standing changes your feet. Much of the natural cushion of padding under your heel and the ball of your foot is lost as we age.
- Your arches also tend to get flatter and less flexible and your ankles and foot joints become stiffer. The whole foot gets wider and longer.
- Foot massages can improve your mood and overall health and they feel great.
- But even better are the following simple exercises that you can do for your feet in less than 5 minutes. These foot fitness exercises help to activate the intrinsic muscles that lie within the foot. These small muscles are responsible for pulling the toes close together and moving them apart. You will also be massaging your plantar fascia, a large sheet of connective tissue that stretches from your heel to the ball of the foot.
- Watch this video to see the whole series of exercises. Separate videos of each are below.
- Foot exercises with a roller
Increasing your arch
- Keep the base of the big toe in contact with the floor while you draw up the arch of the foot.
- Repeat x 8-10.
- wind your sock between the toes
- keep the ball of the foot on the floor as you lift the heel
- repeat x 8-10
Toe Spreads and Toe Rolls
These 2 exercises really work the intrinsic muscles within the foot that are responsible for moving the toes close together and away from each other.
- toe spreads- splay toes apart and the relax. Repeat x 8-10
- toe rolls- lift big toe, then 2nd toe, then 3rd toe, 4th toe then the little toe. Reverse. Maintain ball of foot on the floor throughout. Repeat x 8-10.
Big Toe Lifts
- keep the arch of the foot up whilst gripping onto the band with the base of the big toe.
- Lift the big toe up only. This allows the peroneal muscles on the other side of the foot to work to hold the toes stable on the floor
Plantar Fascia Stretch
- Place the roller against a wall, parallel and touching the wall.
- Slide the toes down the side of the roller till the ball of the foot touches the floor whilst the big toe remains elevated- you may find that your big toe is not as flexible as the foot in the video. If this is the case, move your fott a little further out
- Hold, bend the knee in towards the wall, keeping the heel flat on the floor and feeling the stretch in the arch of the foot.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Lift the heel slightly to intensify the stretch on the underside of the foot.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
Plantar Fascia Massage
- Using the roller either partially weight bearing, with your body weight mostly supported on the other foot on the floor.
- Roll back and forth 8-10x
- Or fully weight bearing as tolerated, standing on the roller with both feet rolling. You can put more weight on the plantar fascia by moving to a single foot only on the roller. 8-10x.
- turn the roller lengthwise and stand on top with foot parallel to roller. Massage the transverse arch under the ball of the foot x 8-10.