How training the foot muscles can improve your flexibility.
“Do I need physiotherapy when I feel pain in my feet or ankles?”
If that’s the question on your mind right now, we’d recommended you see a physiotherapist for an assessment.
This is because the structure of our feet is very complex with each foot being made up of 26 tiny bones. Also, there are more than 100 ligaments, not including the joints, tissues and tendons.
As a result, this complexity allows us to walk, run and perform other physical activities.
However, because of the many possible movements of the feet, they can be prone to overload in one region, which can cause you pain. Therefore, by doing a few simple exercises you can keep your feet moving well and feeling good.
Three Simple Physiotherapy Exercises to Improve Your Foot
Flexibility simply means being able to move between different positions as we’d like to. So it may make sense that you want to be as flexible as possible right?
Becoming more flexible is a good goal to have, but you shouldnt aim to be so flexible you feel loose. If you’re too flexible, you will be sloppy in your movements, which not only makes you more prone to injury, it will slow you down and make you very inefficient.
This is why flexibility and CONTROL of that flexibility are so important, and you need to work on both. If you feel you need to enhance your flexibility and your control, here are a few easy exercises you can do:
1. Stand on one leg and lift toes and arch of foot.
This exercise teaches you to lift the arch of your foot. It does this by increasing the flexibility + strength of your toes, and the strength of your arch muscles, resulting in a more powerful run and walk. You may find as you level up in your feet physiotherapy exercises, it will help improve not just your feet but your ankles and other parts of your legs.
Stand on one leg with no shoes on. Begin to lift your toes upward but keep the ball of your foot on the ground. As you do, aim to tilt your ankle outwards to lift up your arch. You should feel the bottom of your foot and your arch tighten up. Hold this for 10 seconds, and repeat 5 times on each leg.
2. Lunge and lower the arch of the foot to learn pronation.
The focus of this exercise is to lower the arch of the foot, or to Pronate. Many people are scared of this movement and try to avoid it. However, if you watch Usain Bolt, you’ll see he is very good at flattening and raising the arch to make him go fast, using it like a big spring.
To do this exercise, stand with one leg forward. Put all your weight on the front leg, and feel the heel, the 5th toe and the big toe on the ground. Then, push your heel heavily into the ground, and let your knee relax and fall forwards, in line with the big toe. You should feel the bottom of your foot arch stretch and flatten out. Keep the heel heavy as you bring the knee backwards and forwards over your big toe.
3. Do your strength work without shoes on to train the feet muscles.
If you already do strength work, such as squats, deadlifts, or lunges, then great! If you don’t, we would strongly recommend you do, as all of the leg muscles are influenced by the feet, and vice versa.
By taking the shoes off and doing these exercises, you make the foot work harder, without adding in any other exercises - talk about efficiency! During these exercises, just make sure you really feel the ground with your feet, using the ball of the big toe, the ball of the little toe, and your heel. If you can feel all 3, you’re onto a winner!
Your feet are the foundation - make sure they’re flexible!
If you’re new to training the feet, be patient and progress slowly - they don’t like big surprises and can get a little sore if you do too much too quickly. If you need advice on which exercises are best for your feet specifically, make sure you book in for a Physio assessment. While general lists of exercises are a good place to start, if you’re having any foot issues at the moment, it’s best to get an expert to take a look.
Once you start training the feet and feeling the ground fully, you won’t go back! You spend most of your life standing on them, so don’t neglect them. Own your feet and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong foundation for the rest of your body.