It all starts from the ground up; your feet may not seem like a significant contribution to your overall health. However, that couldn’t be any farther from the truth!
Your feet keep you up and moving, help prevent back, knee and hip pain. 61% of women spend more than four hours on their feet daily. “Your feet carry the entire weight of your body when you’re standing, so the more hours you’re on your feet, the more likely you’ll experience pain,” says Elizabeth Kurtz, DPM, a podiatrist in Chicago and spokeswoman for the APMA.
The following easy exercises will help you strengthen your feet, prevent pain, and improve overall balance. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!
- Point your Toes
To ease foot pain and aching in your feet, lift one foot and roll it downward until the toes are pointed toward the ground. Then, flex your foot. Repeat using the other foot.
“This exercise will help stretch out all the small muscles that are on the bottom of your feet, which can help relieve aching and improve blood circulation,” says Dr. Kurtz.
- Toe Presses
Toe presses are a wonderful low impact warm up for your feet, and the movement can be quite relaxing. Stand tall and bend slightly at the knees. Next, grip the floor with your toes and hold for a count of three. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Toe Walking
Toe walking will help strengthen the muscles in your toes, as well as the ligaments and muscles surrounding the balls of your feet. All you need to do is stand on your tiptoes and walk forward for 20 seconds. Once you have completed this walk, rest for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this process five times.
- Heel Raises
This is a great exercise for relieving toe cramps caused by standing for hours in constricting shoes. It can also strengthen the calf muscles and make them look more defined. Stand up and lift your heels so that you are standing on the balls of your feet. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat ten times.
- Ankle Circles
Ankle mobility and flexibility are extremely important. Ankle’s that are tight and restricted often cause the rest of the body to compensate for their flaws, which in turn results in muscle and joint pain throughout the body. If you have tight ankles you might notice hip, back and/or knee pain.
To perform ankle circles, lay on the floor and extend one leg over your head. Rotate the extended leg’s ankle counterclockwise for ten counts. Switch legs and repeat.
- Resisted Flexion
This one is excellent for targeting the hard to reach small muscles in the foot. These muscles play a crucial role in maintaining balance. Strengthening these muscles will help prevent injury.
To do this one you will need an exercise band. Sitting on the floor, back straight and shoulders back, straighten your feet out in front of you. Next, wrap the exercise band around a sturdy chair or bedpost, and then place the band on top of your feet. While in a seated position on the floor, slide back until you feel tension in the band. Flex your foot backwards and hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat the movement for 10 repetitions.
Relax in a warm bath with Epsom salts
The combination of warm water and Epsom salts will give you a double dose of pain relief and relaxation. Magnesium sulfate, the key compound in Epsom salts, has been found to relax muscles, reduce pain, and sedate the nervous system. Warm water also helps to improve circulation in the feet and relieves muscle pain. Add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath, and soak for at least twenty minutes.