How happy are your feet?
Did you know that in your lifetime (assuming you live to 80 years), you will have taken over 216 MILLION steps? That’s around 110,000 miles!
Feet are complex- they are made of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and they allow us to interact with the ground. They must be stable enough to support your body as you navigate the world, yet flexible enough to adapt to uneven surfaces.
When the muscles in the feet aren’t happy, things up the chain (like the ankle, knee, hip and back) pick up the slack. Check out some easy self-care tips below. They will help provide sensory input, mobilize, and strengthen the foot.
Show those puppies some love!
When we roll the foot we increase it’s proprioception- perception or awareness of the position and movement of the foot. Anytime we touch a body part through massage, foam rolling, ball rolling, kinesiology tape, etc., we reinforce the connection of that body part to the brain.
Rolling your foot on a ball also mechanically addresses the plantar fascia. Since that fascia line is connected from the foot, through the back of the body and into the forehead, we effectively influence the entire posterior chain! It is a simple and effective way to help alleviate foot pain, and even pain that extends up the chain. Pretty neat!
How to do it:
First, grab a lacrosse ball or any small ball (tennis ball, golf ball, baseball, etc). We recommend being seated, but if you roll standing just make sure to hold onto a chair or use the wall to help balance. Apply pressure into the ball and roll back and forth, and side to side. If you find any tender spots, hold pressure there for about 30 seconds. It’s best to roll for 2 to 3 minutes.
If you’ve never tried this exercise, you’re in for a treat! It’s a challenge for your brain and your feet.
We should be able to move our big toe independently of our little toes – this is called toe dissociation.
Here’s how to do it:
One foot at a time, press the little toes into the floor and lift the big toe. Then, press the big toe into the floor and lift the little toes. Repeat 5-10 times for 2-3 sets.
This exercise not only strengthens the connection between your brain and foot, but also strengthens the intrinsic muscles of the foot. Stronger intrinsic muscles result in better control, balance, stability and decreased risk of injuryat the foot and up the chain.
Most modern shoes are widest at the ball of the foot and narrow at the toes, but the human foot is widest at the toes. Yikes!
When we stuff our poor feet into these shoes, the space between the toes squish together and can cause the big toe to angle in (hello bunion!).
Spacers help to reclaim the alignment of the toes, which help strengthen those intrinsic muscles and restore fallen arches. Ease into wearing them. Start with an hour or less and slowly increase wear time.