Posture and anatomy are crucial factors in avoiding knee, back or hip pain and it all starts from the ground up. Your foot is a complex structure of 26 bones and 33 joints, layered with an intertwining web of more than 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Your feet are extremely important for the entire body, as they are the ones controlling your balance and posture. In fact, balance is directly affected by the amount of pressure we put on the feet, so any pain in leads to an imbalanced walking/standing. On the other hand, a few exercises during the week will boost the blood flow and strengthen the muscles in your feet, ensuring optimal alignment of muscles and bones in the body. By taking proper care of them, your feet can prevent back, knee and hip pain.
Take further note that most foot pain is caused by shoes that do not fit properly or that force the feet into unnatural shapes, such as pointed-toe, high-heeled shoes. Furthermore, unsuitable shoes can even be the cause that aggravates your sciatica.
The 5 exercises outlined below (with the videos) will strengthen your feet, help prevent pain, and improve your balance. A stronger and more flexible feet and ankles will ensure a long term, pain-free service.
1. Heel Raises
Heel raises are great for realigning the tendons in your calves and readjusting your ankle joints. They will also help strengthen your toes and improve your balancing.
- Take a chair and place it in front of you;
- Stand tall and lift your left leg off the ground;
- Make sure to bend your right leg a little at the knee;
- Slowly raise and lower right heel, making sure that your foot is properly aligned with your leg;
- Do about 10-20 reps and switch legs;
- Perform about 2-3 sets for best result.
2. Toe Walking
No worries, you don’t have to be a ballerina to do this exercise! Toe walking helps strengthen the muscles in your toes, as well as the ligaments and muscles surrounding the balls of your feet. Go for it:
- Stand on your tiptoes with your feet straight and walk forward for 20 seconds;
- Then point your toes outward and walk for another 20 seconds;
- Once done, point your toes inwards and repeat;
- Rest for 10-15 seconds;
- Repeat the movements 5 more times.
3. Ankle Circles
Ankle circles focus on ankle mobility and flexibility. Rotating the ankle through its anatomically complete range of motion smooths out the joint surfaces and lubricates them. This contributes greatly to the joint’s health and will provide you with a full range of motion:
- Lie on your back in a comfortable position and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor;
- Hugging your right knee to your chest, move your right ankle in a circular motion;
- Your toes should be pointed as they reach a 12 o’clock position and flexed outwards as they reach 6 o’clock;
- Do about 5-10 in circles in a clockwise motion and change direction;
- Repeat for another 5-10 circles;
- Once done with the right foot, bring it down and repeat the whole exercise with your left ankle;
- For best results, do about 5 sets with each foot.
4. Tibialis Anterior
This exercise is excellent for targeting the hard to reach small muscles in the foot and for realigning and strengthening the legs and hips:
- Sit on the floor, with your left knee bent and straighten your right leg out in front of you;
- Wrap an exercise band around a sturdy chair or bedpost to withstand the pull;
- Place the band on the top of your right foot, while sliding your left food under it;
- Next, gently bring your toes up towards your head;
- Hold each position for about 2 seconds and perform about 10 repetitions;
- Next, switch legs and repeat the routine;
- Do about 3 sets for each foot to help heal knee pain.
5. Toe Curls
These stretches can feel a little frustrating at first, but they really help build up muscle strength and dexterity in your feet. They’re particularly great for runners!
- Sit down on a chair and place a towel on the floor;
- Place both feet on the towel;
- Use all your toes to scrunch up the towel towards you;
- After about 5-10 reps, try scrunching the towel back out again;
- Repeat 5 sets for each direction;
- Next, rest and wiggle your toes to promote blood flow;
- Place your feet back on the towel;
- Using your right foot, grab the towel with your toes and hold it for 10 seconds;
- Release and repeat 5 times for each foot.
There you have it folks, a few exercises and you should be pain-free in no time!
These exercises can take some 20 minutes to complete. Preform them in succession of each other 2-3 times per week for best results.
If you’re also experiencing back pain, you can also try this exercise.