By: Lisa Payne
The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. Feet serve as foundational support for the entire body by stabilizing the knee, hip and shoulder joints. Without strong, agile feet, every way we move is affected — including our workouts. But as we age, feet start to pronate, supinate and show signs of imbalance.
Imagine what happens to the entire body during a squat when one foot has a collapsing arch? That collapsing arch can cause the knee on that side to push inward, changing the form, safety and power output of the entire move.
Try these exercises to strengthen your feet and become stronger on your feet.
In a seated position, place a towel underneath one foot. With only your toes, drag the towel towards you and then let go. Lift the toes up and set them back down. Pull the towel towards you again. Repeat on the other foot.
From the seated position with the towel under one foot, grip the towel with your toes. Hold the towel and rotate the foot right to left in a windshield wiper motion. Try it on the other side.
Stand on your left foot and rock your left hip out to the side and back while maintaining your balance. This helps build strength through the arch of the foot.
Turn the BOSU flat side is up. Hold onto something for balance. Stand with one foot flat on the center of the BOSU with the other leg out behind you. Plantar flex the foot by pushing your toes downward. Release back to a flat position. Next, press the heel down enough so that front of the board lifts. Return to center.
Using a lacrosse ball, golf ball or a specialized foot roller, sit down with your foot on top of it. Roll out the bottoms of both feet, including your arch and heel. Scar tissue can build up causing tight feet, cramping or plantar fasciitis.
On top of keeping your feet in shape, give them a little TLC by soaking them in a foot bath with Epsom salt, schedule a reflexology session or massage them with an athletic cooling gel. Taking care of your feet by maintaining their strength and balance will make your workouts more efficient, powerful and safe.