If you spend a lot of time on your feet and on the go, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll experience foot or ankle pain at some point.
However, by strengthening your foot muscles with exercise and stretches and using the right footwear, you can prevent soreness, increase the range of motion in your feet, and improve your general health and flexibility.
The great thing about foot fitness exercises is that they’re simple, don’t require expensive equipment, and can be performed anytime and anywhere.
Here are a few exercises you can use to improve the flexibility and mobility of your feet:
- Toe raise, point, and curl – Sit straight in a chair with your feet planted flat on the floor. Keeping your toes on the floor, raise your heels until only the balls of your feet remain on the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then lower your feet. Next, raise your heels and point your toes so only the tips of the big and second toes touch the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then lower your heels. Repeat both of these stages 10 times.
- Big toe stretch. This exercise is designed to stretch and relieve pain in your toes after they’ve been cramped in tight shoes all day. Start by sitting straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor (without shoes). Now, move your left foot so it rests on your right thigh. Use your fingers to gently stretch your big toe in an upward, downward, and sideways motion. Repeat 10 times, then switch to your other foot.
Next, try these exercises designed to improve the strength of your feet:
- Toe splay. You can do this exercise on one or both feet at the same time, depending on your comfort level. Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet resting gently on the floor. Then, spread your toes apart as much as you can without straining them. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Then repeat this motion 10 times. To make the exercise more challenging, you can loop a rubber band around your toes to provide resistance.
- Toe curls. This exercise helps build overall strength in the flexor muscles of your toes and feet. Start by laying a small towel on the floor in front of where you’re sitting, with the short side of the towel facing your feet. Next, place the toes of one of your feet on the short side of the towel. Then, try to grasp the towel between your toes and draw it toward you. Repeat this exercise 5 times before you try it on your other foot. You can weight down the towel with an object to make the exercise more challenging.
- Sand walking. A great way to stretch and strengthen your feet and calves is to walk barefoot on sand. The sand’s soft, sinking texture makes it more physically demanding. Just find yourself a beach or beach volleyball court on which to trudge for as long as possible without overexerting yourself.
Finally, try the following exercises that help provide pain relief:
- Toe extensions. This exercise helps prevent and treat plantar fasciitis, which causes pain in your heel when walking. Sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Place your left foot on your right thigh. Pull your toes up toward your ankle, so you feel a stretching of the muscles on the bottom of your foot and heel cord. Hold this position for 10 seconds. To help ease tension and pain, massage the arch of your foot while stretching. Repeat this routine 10 times on each foot.
- Achilles stretch. The Achilles tendon that connects your heel to your calf muscles can be easily strained. To strengthen this tendon, stand up and face a wall. Raise your arms so that your palms rest flat against the wall. Then, place one foot back, but keep your knee straight. Bend the knee of the opposite leg. Keep both your heels flat on the floor. Push your hips forward until the Achilles tendon and calf muscles stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat this exercise 3 times on each side.
Giving your feet and ankles a regular workout can help reduce existing pain, prevent future discomfort, and reduce your risk of injury. However, it is best to consult with a doctor to ensure you are doing the right stretches for your condition.
Foot and Ankle Care in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida
Intercoastal Medical Group is a multi-specialty practice specializing in primary care, and much more. With more than 100 doctors in several locations across Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida, we make it easy to find a qualified doctor at a location that’s convenient to you. You can also request an appointment online. Intercoastal Podiatrist, Joseph L. Bramante, Jr., DPM, can address all of your unique podiatry needs. Please call (941) 316-0133 for an appointment. Dr. Bramante is located in the Beneva Professional Center, 943 S. Beneva Road, Suite #113, Sarasota, FL 34232.