How often do you give your feet attention? Or pamper those tootsies with some TLC? In reality, you demand a lot from this part of your body but pay them little mind until an issue flares up — like pain.
Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your feet strong and flexible so they can keep up with your daily demands. Best of all? They feel good at the same time.
Our expert team at Premier Foot and Ankle Center is here to help when problems arise. But we recommend regular stretching and exercise to reduce your risk of needing our services.
Do you want to keep your feet in top shape? Here are our five favorite activities to stay flexible, mobile, and strong.
1. Toe spread
Did you know you have tiny muscles in your feet that move your toes? It’s common for these muscles to weaken with age, putting you at risk of foot issues like hammertoe.
Keep these muscles flexible and strong by spreading your toes wide apart — just like the fingers on your hand — and then bringing them back together in a controlled manner. For the best results, perform this stretch-and-return action 8-10 times, 2-3 times each day.
2. Big toe stretch
The big toe is a common location for problems, including pain and arthritis. Fortunately, you can keep this little piggy mobile with a simple toe stretch.
While seated, rest one ankle on the opposite thigh so you can touch your big toe. Use your fingers to slowly stretch the big toe up, down, and away from your other toes, holding each stretch for five seconds.
Repeat these stretches 10 times and switch sides.
3. Top- and bottom-of-the-foot stretch
You can tackle the tops and bottoms of your feet from a sitting or standing position. Start with your feet flat on the ground and close together.
To stretch the top of your foot, raise your heel and curl your toes under until the tops of them press against the floor. You should feel a stretch across the top of your feet and up the front of your ankle. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
To stretch the bottom of the foot, raise your heel, leaving your toes spread against the floor. If you’re standing, you can step one foot back slightly for a deeper stretch. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
Repeat on both sides.
4. Calf stretch
Believe it or not, one of the best stretches for your feet actually focuses on the calf muscles that meet at your ankle at the Achilles tendon. They’re also notoriously tight, which can cause pain and injury in the foot and leg.
Keep your calf muscles stretched by performing a classic runner’s stretch. Face a wall and place your hands on it. Then, keep one leg bent and step the other straight back. Try to press your heel to the ground gently. You should feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg.
Hold for 30 seconds. Then repeat on the other side.
5. Hamstring stretch
Just like those pesky tight calf muscles, your hamstrings can also wreak havoc on your ankles and feet. That’s because all of your muscles work together, all the way from your thighs to your feet.
Treat your feet to some extra care by keeping your hamstrings loose. Sit in a stable chair without wheels, both feet flat on the floor. Then, extend one leg straight in front, leaving the heel on the ground and pointing your toes toward the sky.
Slowly hinge forward at the hip until you feel a stretch on the back of your leg, putting your hands on your bent knee for stability. Hold for 20-30 seconds and change sides.
Stretching for healthy feet
It’s never too late to add exercises to your foot care regimen, even if you already have a podiatric condition or pain. But we can provide personalized guidance on which activities can offer the best results based on your specific needs.
Do you want to avoid foot issues or find treatments for an existing condition? Contact us at Premier Foot and Ankle Center in Worcester and Webster, Massachusetts, to schedule a consultation with one of our talented experts today.