Did you know that the foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 different tendons, ligaments and muscles? We rely so heavily on our feet, and with that many moving parts, it is very common for one to experience foot pain. That being said, very rarely you will hear someone say they are going to workout their feet. Strengthening your feet is actually very important and can help alleviate soreness, pain, and improve your overall health and mobility.
You need your feet to support your body every single day, especially when you stand, walk, or run. Two of the most common foot injuries that we see at Tensegrity are in the achilles tendon (which causes pain in the area that connects the heel of your foot to your calf) and plantar fasciitis (which causes pain in the bottom of the foot and the heel). We recommend to regularly exercise and stretch your feet to make sure that they are providing the best support for your body and allow you to function daily free of pain.
With the help of our trained physical therapists and strength coaches, we aim to help increase your strength, balance, and coordination so that you can stay active on your feet for the rest of your life.
Some recommended exercises and treatments we suggest to our patients are…
Rolling your feet
We recommend starting any foot exercises by rolling your feet on a lacrosse or tennis ball because this can help relieve some pain and stiffness short term, but it also help make the soft tissue more pliable.
Calf raises are one of our favorite foot strength exercises because they are a great way to isolate the calf, which connects to the heel and the foot. If you think of the achilles as one unit with the plantar fascia at the bottom, if you strengthen your calf, the bottom of the heel will follow. We also recommend doing:
-Eccentric calf raises (off a box, or ledge)
-Single leg calf raises
Elastic band work
With the help of a mini resistance band, there are four exercises you can do to help strengthen your feet. Resistance bands work by adding an external resistance just by pulling it away from where the force is being applied. Once you wrap the mini resistance band around the base of the foot and pull, you can try the following:
This involves pulling your toes towards your body with the help of the resistance band in order to work the muscles that support the front of the ankle.
This involves pushing your foot forward while pulling the resistance band toward you. This helps strengthen the arch of the foot and calf muscles.
This involves turning the foot out (towards your little toe) with the resistance from the band.
This involves turning the foot in (in the direction of your big toe) with the resistance from the band.
These four exercises help really strengthen all sides of the feet for better strength and stability.
Single leg balance
The feet are required to stabilize the body when performing a single leg balance, and proper balance is an important key to staying pain and injury free.
Sled push and pull
The sled is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that almost anyone can use. The sled mimics the mechanics of running without the wear and tear. Pushing and pulling the sled can dramatically increase the strength of the lower body, including the legs and the feet.
Split squats and Single Leg RDL
Being on one leg forces you to balance, and it helps strengthen all sides of the feet.
Before attempting any of these exercises, we recommend first learning proper form from either one of our trained physical therapists or strength coaches here at Tensegrity Physical Therapy. If you would like a one-on-one personalized treatment plan to help deal with your foot pain/injury, book an appointment today by calling 541-338-7088 or visiting our contact page.