The average person walks 100,000 miles in a lifetime. (1) So, give your feet some much deserved TLC with these feel-good moves.
Sometimes we forget to take care of our feet until they start to ache, but this is a huge mistake. Strong and balanced feet create a solid foundation for the entire body. There are 26 bones and 33 joints in just one foot, supported by over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, creating all sorts of movement possibilities.
As you get older, the feet tend to receive less attention and become less mobile. Having tight, immobile feet can cause injuries in the ankles, knees, and hips, leading to imbalances throughout the whole body. Stretching and strengthening your feet relieves tension throughout the entire body.
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Let’s start with these seven foot exercises for healthy foot mobility. Follow as a pre-workout routine, or do them first thing in the morning.
7 Pain-Releasing Exercises for Foot Mobility
Toe Spread | 10 breaths per side
This exercise might feel weird at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will be. Trying to put your fingers in between your toes is the hardest part!
- Sit in a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair. Cross your right ankle over your leg thigh.
- Weave the fingers of your left hand in between the toes of your right foot, reaching as far between the toes as you can.
- Hold for 10 deep breaths, then switch sides.
Arch Stretch | 10 breaths
Stretching the bottoms of the feet can relieve tension throughout the whole body while helping to maintain a healthy arch.
- Come to all fours with your knees and ankles touching.
- Put weight onto your hands, flex the feet and tuck toes.
- Slowly walk your hands back towards the feet and sit back on your heels. For more support, keep your hands on the ground. For more of a stretch, place your hands on your thighs.
- Stay here for 10 breaths, then slowly release.
Note: This stretch can become intense fast. If 10 breaths are too long, try breaking the stretch into two shorter rounds.
Ankle Stretch | 5 breaths
Do the tops of your feet feel tight after a long run? Stretching them can help relieve tightness and maintain a balanced foot.
- Sit on your heels with the tops of your toes on the ground and your legs, ankles, and feet together.
- Cross your left arm over the body and hold onto your right knee, right hand behind you for support.
- Lean your body back into your right hand, and lift your right knee off the ground.
- Go to the amount where you feel a stretch in the top of the ankle joint.
- Stay for 5 breaths then switch sides.
Foot Curl | 10 reps per side
This exercise is a great way to strengthen the muscles that support the arches, reducing any potential for inflammation in the area.
- Roll two small towels lengthwise and come to a comfortable seat on your chair.
- Place one rolled towel under the ball of your right foot, and one under the heel. Use the towels to balance the weight evenly between the ball and the heel.
- Lift all 10 toes upward without lifting your foot off the towel.
- Then, draw the toes toward the heel to engage the arch of the foot. Avoid curling your toes.
- Continue pointing and flexing your feet for 10 full reps on the right side, then repeat with the left foot.
Note: While tempting, it’s important to not curl the toes here. Let the muscles in the arch pull the toes towards the heel.
Toe Abduction | 10 reps
Weakness in the muscles and ligaments of the foot can lead to a flattened arch. This exercise works to create a healthy arch by activating the muscles that support the bottoms of the feet.
- Sit on the chair, feet on the ground.
- Focusing on one foot at a time, spread your toes as far apart from each other as possible.
- Press your big toe and pinky toe down on the ground keeping the middle three toes off the ground.
- Hold the position for a few seconds, then release slowly. Repeat for 10 reps.
Foot Pushes | 10 reps per side
This move stretches the entire ankle, improving your overall foot mobility.
- Stand with your feet together, resting your hands on the back of the chair for support.
- Bend your right knee and lift the heel off the ground at the same time, keeping the ball of the foot and toes on the ground.
- Put a little weight forward on the ball of the foot, then lower the heel back down, straightening the knee.
- Repeat for 10 reps, then switch to the left side.
Note: It helps to look down at your knee to make sure it is tracking over your toes. Imagine a straight line from the ball of your foot, ankle, and knee joints.
Heel Lifts | 10 reps
This exercises strengthens the calf muscles, which play a role in stabilizing the ankle.
- Start in the same position as above, hands on the back of the chair and feet together.
- Keeping both legs straight, lift your heels off the ground, coming high up onto the balls of your feet. The ankles should touch or be as close as possible with most of the weight on your big toe and second toe.
- Lower your heels back down and repeat for 10 reps.
Note: Focus on lifting through the core muscles to feel lightness throughout the whole body. You can always lean into the chair for support.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Soothing Stretches for Ankle Mobility)