I think most of us are guilty of neglecting our feet; and I don't mean in a lack of pedicure way. When was the last time you exercised your feet?
Did you know, there are 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons in your feet? The feet serve as the foundation for your entire body in terms of support, balance, posture, and overall well-being. No surprise then, that ongoing foot problems can cause issues further 'up the chain' in the knees, hips and lower back.
Try the exercises below to see how dexterous and strong your feet are! You'll need a pilates band and ball or similar. These exercises are done in a seated position, either on the floor or a chair if it's more comfortable. The focus is on moving the toes and strengthening the arch of the foot.
Starting with Toe Raises. Place the feet firmly on the floor and make sure the weight is even between the balls of the feet and the heels. Make sure you're not rolling onto the inside or outside edge of the foot. Working one foot at a time or both together you're going to try and lift the big toe whilst keeping the rest of the toes on the floor. If they will not cooperate, you can use your hands to encourage the toes to lift (or to stay still), it helps the brain understand and send messages to the area it's trying to lift.
Try 10 reps with the big toe lifting, little toes staying down and then 10 times the other way, little toes lifting, big toe staying down.
Next, Mexican Wave, with your toes! Again starting with the feet firmly on the floor and making sure you're not rolling in or out. You're going to lift all the toes up and then 'wave' them down to the floor one toe at a time starting with the little toe. Really hard! You'll see that my little toes tend to move in pairs but it's a work in progress. Try 10 times in this direction and then reverse. Lift all the toes and wave them back to the floor starting with the big toe this time. I think this is harder! 10 times in this direction.
Now using the band for Toe Curls. This is easiest on a wooden surface rather than a mat or rug/carpet as the band will move a bit more freely. Lay the band flat on the floor going away from you. Place the right foot on the band and then using the toes try and move the band in towards you. So you're picking up the toes, placing them down and curling them in to scrunch the band towards you.
Once you've got the band all the way in, reverse the movement to send the band way. Much harder! Then try it with the left foot.
Ball Lifts. This one is my favourite. I think the ability to pick things up with our feet is a life skill we should all aspire to have! You just never know when it might come in handy! You'll need the squishy Pilates ball for this exercise. Place the ball on the floor and then place one foot on top of the ball. You want the heel of the ball rounding over the back edge of the ball a little bit. Obviously this will depend slightly on the size of your feet. You're going to try and pick the ball up with your foot. Really it's the toes and muscles in the arch of the foot that are doing the work here. Give it a go, 10 times each side.
There you have it, my favourite foot exercises for strength and flexibility. How did you find them?