woman-sitting-on-floor-with-bare-feet

Foot exercises for a stronger foundation

Our feet tend to get a bit neglected when it comes to exercise. We focus on the major muscle groups (legs and arms) and forget about our little trotters.

Your feet are the equivalent of the foundations of a building. Good foundations mean you’ll stay upright and pain-free.

The best way to look after your feet is through exercise.

By keeping them moving and building their strength you will improve your:

  • Balance skills — reducing the chances of falling over
  • Body alignment — alleviating knee and hip pain
  • Motor skills — helping you move more freely and easily

1. Toe lift and lower

Preparation

Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet hip distance apart and flat on the floor.

Movement

  1. Point the tips of your toes upwards towards the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Point the tips of your toes downwards towards the floor. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 5 times.

2. Toe splay

Preparation

Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet hip distance apart and flat on the floor.

Movement

  1. Spread all your toes apart as far as is comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Repeat 5 times.

NB You can make this more challenging by placing a rubber band around the toes to create some resistance.

3. Big toe stretch

Preparation

Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet hip distance apart and flat on the floor.

Movement

  1. Lift your left foot up and place it on your right thigh.
  2. Place your right hand underneath your big toe and gently move the toe upwards. Hold for 10 seconds. Now place your hand on the top of your big toe and push it downwards. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 5 times in both directions on both feet.

Breathing

There’s no need to use your Pilates breathing for these exercises, just focus on those feet!

Foot cramp

Foot cramp happens when a muscle in your foot suddenly squeezes and can’t relax. If this happens to you when you when you’re performing the exercises above then stand up and put weight on your cramping foot. You can also stretch the muscles by sitting down and grabbing your cramping foot with your hand and gently massaging it while you push the toes upwards.

What makes you cramp?

Cramp can be caused by:

  • Tightly fitting shoes — you should be able to wiggle your toes inside your shoes and they shouldn’t rub your feet.
  • Dehydration — when you’re dehydrated your muscles aren’t getting the water they need to perform properly so make sure you drink water throughout the day.
  • Nutrient deficiency — low potassium can cause muscle cramping, particularly in your feet and legs. Sometimes, low levels of calcium and magnesium can also cause problems.
  • Medication interference — some medications can cause your muscles to cramp as a side effect e.g. blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs.
  • Fatigue — exercising too much or too hard can put unnecessary strain on your body so strike a balance and be kind to yourself.

If you’re experiencing foot cramp regularly then it’s worth speaking with your doctor to establish what the root cause is.