I think we can all agree that are feet are not the most attractive part of our bodies nor do we really worry about spot reducing in this area. Our bigger concerns are for great abs or a toned back side but have you ever considered that your feet may be the reason you can't achieve some of your goals? Often our training regime is curtailed by injury and pain either in our feet or perhaps other areas like the hip or low back. Our feet serve as our foundation and when they are not working correctly we start to see dysfunction arise. Shoes are the biggest culprit in this dysfunction because they are designed to decrease impact when we exercise but are, in fact, allowing our feet to become lazy. Now I'm not advocating for not wearing shoes but I think we can counteract this problem two ways. The first is to purchase shoes that allow our feet to function more like nature intended. They are several brands out there like Vibram Fivefingers, Xeroshoes and Inov-8 that sell shoes that will protect you feet while allowing your feet to work normally. Your foot is designed to be both a rigid lever and a mobile adapter. Most of the shoes on the market today only allow our foot to be a rigid lever which decreases our foots ability to engage our intrinsic foot muscles causing weakness, immobility and subsequent dysfunction. This brings me to my second strategy to improve your foot's function. We can attempt to improve our foot flexibility and strength with one simple tool and about 5 minutes a day. This is by no means a complete foot care program but it is meant to start you on your way to improving your foot health. Check out the video below to see how its done!
Flexibility and Mobility
- Place a tennis ball under the big toe mound of one foot.
- Lift and spread your toes then press down into the tennis ball. Repeat this under each of your 5 metatarsal heads (the place where your toe meets the rest of your foot). Repeat several times.
- Move the ball to the inside arch and start to rub the ball vigorously under your arch moving to the outside and back in several times.
- Now place the ball in the inside arch just below the big toe mound and slowly shift your weight so that the ball moves towards the heel. Repeat this starting under each of the remaining 4 metatarsal heads.
- Repeat step 3 again.
- Move the ball to the other foot and repeat on the other side.
- Start in standing with equal weight on both feet.
- Begin to lift and spread your toes trying to increase the space between your toes, the webbing, as far as it will go.
- Next, try lifting just your big toes up and down.
- Now try lifting the other 4 toes while keeping your big toes down and your ankles still.
- With your toes down, lift you heel and create a foot fold (movement at the junction between the toes and the rest of the foot)
- Hold the heel up and explore the metatarsal heads by shifting the weight from the inside to the outside of the foot and back a few times.
All of this information is taken from classes I've attended given by Stacy Lee Krauss, the creator of Cardio yoga, and Leslee Bender, the creator of Barre Above, the Bender Ball and I am Ageless Now. Both of these ladies are amazing innovators and passionate about foot fitness. They have made me realize the importance of paying extra attention to our feet even though it's not always the "sexy" thing to do. If you are interested in learning more about foot fitness I encourage you to check out their programs https://www.cardioyoga.com and http://iamagelessnow.com.