Do your feet tend to feel weak or unstable when you exercise? Granted, your feet are a small part of your body, but they’re one of the most important features that help you walk, run, balance, and otherwise help us carry on our day-to-day activities. If your feet are not strong, then it might be hard to go about doing the things you love.
That said, we’re here to help you strengthen your feet by giving you tips on how to do so. From strengthening different areas of your feet to exercising on uneven surfaces to massaging them afterwards, you’ll soon have your feet conditioned in no time. Let’s get started!
1. Strengthen parts of your feet.
• Arches. Whether you have extremely high arches or low, flat ones, arches can make a difference in how you walk or run; if your arches become weak, they can lead to injuries later down the line.
Hence, you might want to consider doing the short feet exercise, aka “the caterpillar.” Start by placing a cloth under your feet and, using your toes, curl them inward while scrunching up the cloth. Relax and repeat several times until you start to feel a notable difference.
If your arches still need that extra push, however, consider getting insoles which help support them as you walk or run.
• Toes. While they might not seem very important to you, toes actually play a big part in balancing our body. They’re also essential for helping you push off from the ground to move forward for walking and running. Therefore, weak toes mean imbalance.
Some exercises to strengthen them include the big toe press (in which you simply apply pressure to your big toe from your body) and the combined calf raise-big toe press (where your heels hang off an elevated surface, supported by your toes). Performing both can improve balance, as well as lead to better push-off in activities.
• Ankles. If your ankles are weak, then your foot becomes more pressured to support your body. You can mitigate this by doing some exercises to improve ankle stability.
For instance, move and swing your ankle up and down, as well as side to side, to loosen it before a workout. Next, roll your ankle outwards and inwards, applying just enough pressure until you feel a good stretch before returning to the original position. Keeping your ankles flexible and relaxed will make stability more likely to happen.
2. Exercise on uneven surfaces.
Perhaps you constantly walk or run on flat, smooth surfaces such as concrete. While it’s convenient and stable, it causes your feet to become accustomed to it, which then makes them unable to adapt to other surfaces when the challenge arises.
Although it’ll be difficult at first, push yourself to run on uneven surfaces, such as on rocks, soft sand, or trails. You might struggle to keep your balance, but over time you’ll start to feel your feet toughening up and pretty soon, you’ll be able to power through these challenging terrains with no sweat!
3. Do DOMS.
Short for “delayed onset muscle soreness,” DOMS is that feeling of soreness you get the following day after a strenuous workout, which admittedly can be painful. However, it gives you a reason to get a massage before it happens.
You can either find a massage therapist to relax your feet, or you can do it yourself. Simply find a tense or tender area in the foot and apply pressure to it until it becomes looser. Not only does it feel good, but it has been shown to reduce soreness by as much as a third, so you can get back to exercising sooner than later.
Foot instability can be a real pain, both literally and figuratively in your everyday life. However, by figuring out what’s the problem and taking steps to ameliorate it, you’re certain to be on your way to better, stronger feet that can tackle any surface that you want! Once again, here are some things to take into account when strengthening your feet:
• Find certain parts of your feet (e.g. toes, ankles, arches) and see which of them tend to be unstable.
• Perform exercises that not only strengthen, but also loosen and flex muscles inside and around the foot.
• Challenge yourself by running on variable surfaces, from trails to sand to rocks; this will toughen up the soles of your feet.
• Treat your feet to deep-tissue massages in order to prevent DOMS from occurring after workouts.
Most importantly, pay attention to your body: if you start to feel that something’s off, then you know that you need to back off from what you’re doing in order to allow your feet to recover. Granted, it’ll take time, but what’s more important is that you don’t worsen it so that you can get better more quickly.