Include strengthening exercises for your feet into your weekly workout routines to improve your endurance, agility, speed, and balance. In addition to the positive benefits foot strength provides, it also helps to reduce risk for injuries including foot strains and sprains, and those irritating foot cramps that wake you up in the middle of the night. Use the following guide to foot strengthening exercise to care for your feet and provide you a solid base to work, stand and play.
Exercises to improve the strength of your feet include those that aim to fatigue your foot muscles. Since your feet support your bodies weight, it is not always easy to fatigue your feet, but strengthening the foot muscles in new ways challenges them and increases your overall foot strength. In addition, strong feet decrease ankle and lower leg strain since those muscles work together to propel you forward, keep you standing upright and make it easier to climb stairs. Prior to beginning a foot strengthening routine, warm up your body with large muscle movements such as walking, stair climbing, dancing, or cycling. A warm-up increases the blood flow to your working muscles and decreases your risk for muscle injuries during the workout. After your feet and body are warm, perform two to three sets of ten to twelve repetitions of the following exercises.
Tip Toe Walking
In bare feet, raise your heels off the floor and walk forward. Include sideways walking, backward walking, and walking in circles to increase the challenge of the exercise. You can also close your eyes if you have a clear path to walk which enhances the balance training of this exercise.
In bare feet, raise your toes off the floor and walk forward. Increase the challenge of this exercise in the same ways you did for the tip toe walk. You can walk sideways, backward, or in circles or close your eyes to improve your balance. Or, try walking on the toes of your right foot and the heel of your left for a greater mind-body connection. Then walk on the toes of your left foot and the heel of your right.
Sit on a chair and place your right foot along the short edge of a hand towel. Grasp the towel with the toes of your right foot and pull the towel closer to you. Relax the grasp and repeat. Continue grasping the towel until you have reached the opposite short edge. Repeat the exercise for repetitions and then perform the towel scrunch on your left foot. As your foot strength improves, aim to use your toes to push the towel back into its original position.
In addition to strengthening the muscles in your feet, concentrate on strengthening the muscles in your toes. These exercises improve the strength of the muscles that support your toe movements to allow increased mobility, agility and dexterity. Warm up your toes prior to performing the specific exercises. Then, aim to complete two to three sets of ten to twelve repetitions.
Toe Pick Up
For this exercise, you will need a pencil or a few marbles. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and place the marbles on the floor in front of you or place the pencil perpendicular to you, so it is in an East to West position. Place the toes of your right foot over the pencil or marble and aim to grasp the object with your toes. Once you have it within your grasp, turn your foot to the right and release the marble or pencil. If using marbles, return your foot to the center and repeat and the marbles are all moved to your right. For the pencil, you can pick it up with your hands and repeat the exercise or try to grasp the pencil while it is to your right side and return it to the center. Repeat for repetitions and repeat with your left foot.
Toe Flexion and Extension
Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your heels and balls of your feet in connection with the floor. Exhale, and raise your toes toward the ceiling. Pull your toes as high as possible without lifting the rest of your foot from the floor. Inhale, and curl your toes down toward the floor while slightly raising the balls of your feet. Repeat for repetitions. You may also perform this exercise one foot at a time, or while sitting with your legs straight in front of you.
Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Spread your toes as far apart as possible. Aim to create space between each individual toe. Hold the space for one to two seconds, then release and repeat.
Balance exercises improve the strength of your feet which improves your solid base. These can be added near the end of your foot workout, prior to stretching. Aim to perform each exercise for thirty to sixty seconds and repeat two or three times. Increase your repetitions as your foot strength and balance improve.
Single Leg Stand
Stand with your bare feet at a hips-distance apart. Shift your weight onto your right leg and slightly bend your left knee to raise your left foot off the floor. Repeat on your right leg. To increase the challenge of this exercise, change the surface upon which you are standing. For instance, if you perform the exercise on tile or wood floor, switch to carpeting or grass. As your balance improves, consider using a balance board, foam roller or a soft exercise mat for a greater challenge. You can also perform this exercise while brushing your teeth to add a balance burst to your daily routine.
In bare feet, stand with your feet a hips-distance apart. Shift your weight on the balls of your feet and raise your heels off the floor. Maintain the heel raise for one to two seconds, then release and return to the starting position. Next, slide both heels away from you. In other words, slight your right heel to the right and your left heel to the left, so your foot position looks like an upside down letter V. Raise your heels for one to two seconds, then release and return to the starting position. Then, slide both heels toward each other, so your foot position looks like the letter V. Raise your heels for one to two seconds, then release and repeat the entire sequence.
Place a paper plate or sliding disc on the floor. Stand tall and place your right foot onto the center of the plate. Shift your body weight onto your left foot. Slide your right foot behind you and slightly to the right and then return to the starting position. The movement should resemble a speed skater using one leg. Repeat for repetitions and repeat on the left leg.
Healthy feet are strong and flexible. Follow your foot strengthening workout with stretching exercises to complete your training session. Flexible feet also reduce the risk of foot cramps and injuries such as fractures and tendon inflammation.
Sit in a comfortable position. You may sit on the floor or in a chair for this stretch. Hold hands with your right foot by placing a finger of your left hand between each toe. To deepen the stretch, slide your fingers as close to your foot as possible or spread apart your fingers until you feel a stretch. Breathe normally and maintain the stretch for 15 to 60 seconds. Slowly release your toes and repeat on your left foot. Repeat the stretch a second time on each foot if needed.
For this stretch, you need a golf ball or a full water bottle that has been frozen. Place a towel on the floor. Place the golf ball or water bottle in the center of the towel. Sit in a chair and rest the middle of your right foot on the ball or bottle. Roll your foot back and forth over the object and press down with your foot until you feel the release of tension. As you move your foot back and forth, pause over any area that feels tight and move your foot side to side or in a small circle to reduce the muscle tension. Repeat the stretch on your left foot and a second time on each foot if needed.
Sit in a chair, bend your right knee and hold your right foot between both hands. Massage the top and bottom of your foot including your toes and heel. As in the above, pay extra attention to any tight areas. Repeat the massage on your left foot.
Daily Foot Strengthening Tips
An exercise routine for your feet has many benefits including reducing your risk of injuries and increases your mobility. Also include daily activities and choices which increase your foot strength to keep your feet healthy.
If you are in a safe environment, perform activities in bare feet. These include walking, yoga, dancing, jump rope, or a mini trampoline.
Care for your feet by keeping them clean and dry. This also includes trimming your nails to avoid any discomfort while wearing shoes and seeing a foot doctor if you are experiencing any foot discomfort or pain.
Make conscious choices about your footwear. Choose shoes that provide the feeling of bare feet or those that include a zero drop to position your heels and toes in alignment and reduce tension on your lower legs.