As a fitness trainer, I see a common misconception among clients in that many believe foot exercises are only necessary for those recovering from foot injuries or chronic pain. However, that is hardly the case! Serving as the foundation of your body, your feet provide support and are the reason you can walk, run and achieve motion in general. We tend to focus our workouts on strengthening our muscles, and the muscles in your feet and toes should not be excluded. Great for everyone of all fitness levels, here are a few of my exercise recommendations to help maintain healthy, happy feet.
If you are looking to increase flexibility and mobility, ankle circles are a great exercise to practice. When I do mine, I prefer lying down so I have a better view of my ankles’ range of motion, and I can better stabilize my lower leg while making the circles.
1. Lie down on your back with your right knee bent and your right foot flat on the floor. (Place a pillow under your head if needed.)
2. Hold your left leg with both your hands, as close to your ankle as possible.
3. Holding the left leg steady, begin to make big, slow circles at the ankle joint. Imagine drawing the biggest circle you can with your big toe.
4. Repeat 4-8 times in each direction on each side.
5. Trainer’s Note: After you do the first ankle, get up and walk around for a few seconds. Take notice of how the feet feel different.
The wave technique gives the muscles of the foot a nice, long stretch.
1. Sit up with your legs out in front of you.
2. You can do both feet at the same time or one at a time.
3. There are 4 positions, hold each position for 2-5 seconds:
#1 Point your foot (like a ballet dancer).
#2 Flex your toes and keep your foot pointed.
#3 Flex your foot.
#4 Point your foot and keep your toes flexed.
4. Return to #1.
5. Repeat 3-5 times per foot.
6. Trainer Tip: If you have tight hamstrings and cannot straighten your legs, or you have a achy lower back, prop yourself up on a block, bolster or short stool.
The toe tap technique focuses on – you guessed it – your toes. This technique strengthens your toes and can prevent potential injury. You can do this exercise either seated or standing.
1. One at a time, lift each toe and then tap it down.
2. Start with the big toe and work your way over to the little toe.
3. Repeat with each toe 1-4 times per foot.
To achieve greater flexibility in your toes, the toes up technique is essential. You can do this exercise either seated or standing, and do either both feet at the same time or one foot at a time to isolate the movement.
1. Keep your heel and ball of your foot down as you lift all the toes up as high as you can and hold for 30 seconds.
2. Don’t supinate (roll out) or pronate (roll in) the foot; keep an even balance across the heel and ball the ball of the foot.
3. Repeat 3-5 times holding for 30 seconds each time.
4. Trainer’s Note: Make sure to focus on the little toe as intently as the big toe.
Now that you’re well on your way to strengthening your feet, try my ZenFitness30 Method – a 30-minute workout with active stretches designed to lengthen you like a dancer, develop your core like a Pilates Pro, get your heart pumping like an athlete and calm you like a Yogi. Get your free download with video instruction here: https://www.vionicshoes.com/zenfitness30.html.