Foot Exercises: Improve Balance, Comfort, and Flexibility
Do you stand on your feet for long periods of time? You’re not alone. A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), reports that 61% of women spend more than four hours on their feet daily. (Source)
Did you know there are 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 ligaments and muscles in the foot? In contrast, our legs have only four bones (femur, patella, tibia, fibula), four joints, and 41 muscles. So, basically, the foot dictates most of the movements in your lower body.
Why Exercise Your Feet?
Foot strength directly affects foot mechanics, gait, ankle stabilization, and whole-body balance. In fact, you can experience stress fractures from overuse, and plantar fasciitis from over-pronation or too-flexible shoes. Both can lead to significant pain and poor movement ability. Injuries are also likely if you have tight calf muscles, or are overweight. (Source)
As a result, your feet need training and conditioning as much as the rest of your body. Foot and ankle exercises improve strength and movement of your feet.
These Exercises Will Help
Dancers, runners, bicyclists — actually anyone who wears shoes, will benefit from these exercises. Spend a few minutes a day doing these simple ankle and foot strengthening exercises, and improve muscle flexibility and power.
Calf raise Stand near a chair or a doorway and hold on lightly for balance. Balance on one foot and rise up onto your toes. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower. Repeat 10 times on each foot.
Calf stretch. Stand with the toes of one foot raised. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower. Repeat 10 times on each foot.
Foot massage. Massage your toes with your thumb using a circular motion. Then move to the arch under your foot and gradually work towards the heel. Use lotion so your hand moves smoothly over your foot.
Roll a ball. Massage the bottom of your feet by rolling a golf ball under the ball of your foot for about two minutes. This exercise relieves arch pain, cramps, and heel pain.
Finally, Relax in a Warm Bath
Combine warm water and Epsom salts to relieve muscle pain, relax, and improve circulation. Add two cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath and soak your feet for 20 minutes.
You might also be interested in your other extremities, your hands: Hand Exercises
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