Foot strengthening exercises
Emily Kennedy MSc RHN
We take our feet for granted even though they support us all day long. Foot exercises, also known as foot strengthening, can keep your feet healthy and strong.
Take a good look at your feet. Hidden underneath cloth and leather casings lie two remarkable biological machines. Each human foot has over 100 moving parts—including 26 bones, 33 joints, and countless muscles, tendons, and ligaments—all working simultaneously to take us where we need to go.
The importance of feet cannot be underestimated. Our feet form the basis of our gait and posture. Every kinetic chain of events which gets us from point A to B starts, and ends, with our feet. With each step, our feet take a pounding, absorbing up to three times our body weight, cushioning the blow for our shins, knees, hips, and spines.
Watch your step
Despite their robust engineering, our feet are put in a precarious position every day. All it takes is one misstep to cause damage that will disrupt the foot’s complicated biomechanics. As our heels and ankles bear the brunt of each foot strike, it’s no wonder that many people suffer an ankle injury at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, the tendons in the ankle are difficult to heal and become more prone to future injuries after a sprain. This is why 40 percent of people who’ve sprained their ankles continue to suffer pain even after getting the injury properly treated.
When feet fall flat
Preventing sprains and other long-lasting injuries can be as simple as strengthening our ankles, toes, and plantar fascia muscles along the base of our feet. However, while other parts of the body get ample training, most people don’t devote much time to strengthening their feet. This neglect can lead to chronic muscle fatigue, which is often compounded by improper shoes. The result: overworked, undertrained feet develop flattened arches.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, flattened arches increase the incidence of knee pain and shin splints, because the knees and shins compensate and absorb the impact that would have been dispersed by a high arch.
People with flat feet are also prone to inflammation of the Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain. Besides pain, other telltale signs that trouble is afoot include the formation of bunions, corns, and calluses as well as popping and cracking sounds when rotating or flexing the ankle.
Foot strengthening exercises
Don’t let weak feet be your defeat! Practise the following daily exercises to strengthen flattened arches, weakened Achilles tendons, or wobbly toes.
Supported point and flex
This exercise strengthens your toes and plantar fascia muscles.
The fun activity improves toe strength and ankle coordination.
Throw in the towel
This game challenges your balance and strengthens your ankles, toes, and plantar muscles.
Both of these exercises are great for people who suffer bunions from improper footwear.
Top tips for healthy feet