Foot pain is one of the most prevalent muscle and joint pain complaints. This can be located in the arch, at the heel, or at the ankle. Many times the pain can originate from weakened muscles and ligaments located deep in the foot that are caused by us wearing restrictive footwear or by not using our feet enough so that they stay strong. Strengthening the muscles of the ankle and foot can help eliminate falls and reduce general foot pain. This article will give you 5 great exercises to help eliminate or prevent foot pain.
1. Curl Them up!
There are four layers of muscles on the bottom of your feet and they help to stabilize your arch and curl your toes down. They have a direct effect on your balance and overall foot posture. The big toe has it's own set of muscles but these too have the same main functions.
Place a thin towel on the ground, put your bare foot on the edge of it, and collect the towel under your arch by grabbing onto it and pulling it under your foot. A similar exercise, but harder, is to do the same thing with a medium size rope placed between your first and second toe. Flex your toes so that the rope is pulled along under your foot. A third method is to use resistance bands. place your toes into the band and hold onto the ends of the band in each hand. Then flex your toes down into the band. Ten minutes a day of these exercise can help reduce foot fatigue and early symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
2. Resistance Bands
As mentioned in the first exercise, you can flex your toes into the band to help strengthen the bottom of your foot. You can also strengthen the foot by flexing your whole foot down against the resistance of the band. Do this 10 times, then perform the same movement 10 times but rotate your foot inwards while flexing. The same movement can be performed with rotating your foot outwards.
The opposite muscles can be strengthened when having the band anchored facing away from your feet so that there is resistance when pulling your foot towards your body.
Resistance bands can come in many different strengths and are usually found at your local pharmacy.
3. Roll Out Your Arches
Its a classic foot exercise, but it works so well! When you have had a long day on your feet, nothing feels better then relaxing that arch by using a ball to roll out your instep. A ball the size of a tennis ball is usually perfect, but you can also use foot roller bars and other foot massage devices. Like any massage, rolling out your feet helps to promote blood flow to the muscles and flush away lactic acid. The connective tissues also get a great stretch. This is an essential exercise if you have plantar fasciitis.
Use a plastic water bottle filled with frozen water in it when rolling out an inflamed and painful arch.
4. Toe Raise, Point and Curl
This exercise is a great way to mobilize and stretch out your entire foot. People with osteo-arthritis should perform this exercise daily. It is a great way to get arthritic toes moving and stretched out.
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, raise your heels off the ground so that you are on the balls of your feet and hold this position for 10 seconds. Then push your toes into the ground and hold for ten seconds. You will feel a tightening in your arch as you hold this position. After the 10 seconds lift the front of your foot off the ground and maximally curl your toes down and hold for another 10 seconds.
5. Stretch out Your Lower Limb
The part of your leg below the knee is the source of the long muscle that go to the foot and are essential in motion and stability of the ankle and foot joints. High heel shoes, sitting too much, and restrictive footwear all contribute to these muscles being tight and sore.
Stretch your calf muscle by placing the front of the foot on a step and hang your heel over a step, using your body weight to stretch it out. You can do this stretch with a straight leg and also a bent knee to stretch both of the calf muscles.
To stretch the shin muscles in the front of the lower limb, point your foot downward and place your little toe on the ground. Roll the ankle forward and you will feel a good stretch into the front of your lower leg.
Our feet can often be the cause of back pain or lower limb pain. Wearing tight fitting shoes, like high heels, or general lack of activity can both cause weakening of the foot muscles. This causes a higher risk of injury and falls. Getting into the habit of doing these simple five exercise every week can help strengthen the foot and relieve pain.
Activity Fact: "Our feet have three arches, 26 bones, 33 joints, and over a hundred muscles and ligaments!