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What are the best foot exercises for healthy feet?




Many people experience foot or ankle pain at some point. By keeping the feet strong, a person can alleviate soreness, and improve overall health and flexibility. Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help to ensure that muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase the range of motion in the feet, keeping a person active for as long as possible.

Most foot exercises are simple and require no complicated equipment. They can be done at home or in the gym as part of a regular exercise routine.

Exercises for flexibility and mobility

The following exercises have been developed to improve flexibility and mobility in the feet.

1. Toe raise, point, and curl

Image of toe raise, point, and curl foot exercise

There are three stages to the toe raise, point, and curl.

This exercise has three stages and will help to strengthen all parts of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Keeping the toes on the floor, raise the heels. Stop when only the balls of the feet remain on the ground.

Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering the heels.

For the second stage, raise the heel and point the toes so that only the tips of the big and second toes are touching the floor.

Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.

For the third stage, raise the heel and curl the toes inward, so that only the tips of the toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

Build flexibility and mobility by repeating each stage 10 times.

2. Big toe stretch

Keeping a wide range of motion in the big toe is important. The following exercise also has three stages, and it was designed to stretch and relieve pain in toes that have been squashed in shoes.

To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Bring the left foot to rest on the right thigh.

Using the fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side.

Remain in this position for 5 seconds.

Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot.

Exercises for strength



The following exercises can help to enhance the strength of the feet.

3. Toe splay

The toe splay was developed to improve control over the toe muscles. It can be done on both feet at once, or on alternate feet, depending on comfort.



To do this exercise:

Sit in a straight-backed chair with the feet gently resting on the floor.

Spread the toes apart as far as possible without straining. Hold the position for 5 seconds.

Repeat this motion 10 times.

Once some strength has been built up, try looping a rubber band around the toes. This will provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

4. Toe curls

Toe curls build up the flexor muscles of the toes and feet, improving overall strength.



To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Lay a small towel on the floor in front of oneself, with the short side facing the feet.

Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. Try to grasp the towel between the toes and pull it toward oneself. Repeat the exercise five times, before switching to the other foot.

To make this exercise more challenging, weigh down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

5. Marble pickup

The marble pickup was designed to increase strength in the muscles on the underside of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Place an empty bowl and a bowl of marbles (20 is good to start with) on the floor in front of the feet.

Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and place it in the empty bowl.

Repeat, using the other foot.

6. Sand walking

Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. This is a good exercise in general because sand's soft texture makes walking more physically demanding.

To do this exercise:

Head to a beach, desert, or even a volleyball court.

Remove shoes and socks.

Walk for as long as possible. Increase these distances slowly over time, to avoid overexerting muscles in the feet and calves.

Exercises for pain

The following exercises can provide pain relief.



7. Toe extension

The toe extension is useful in preventing or treating plantar fasciitis — a condition that causes pain in the heel when walking, as well as difficulty in raising the toes.

To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Place the left foot on the right thigh.

Pull the toes up, toward the ankle. A stretching feeling should be felt along the bottom of the foot and heel cord.

Hold for 10 seconds.

Massaging the arch of the foot while stretching will help ease tension and pain.

Repeat this exercise 10 times on each foot.

8. Golf ball roll

Golf ball roll foot exercise

A golf ball rolled under the foot may help to relieve discomfort.

Rolling a golf ball under the feet can help to relieve discomfort in the arches and ease pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

To do this exercise:

Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.

Place a golf ball — or another hard, small ball — on the floor next to the feet.

Lay one foot on the ball and move it around, pressing down as hard as is comfortable. The ball should be massaging the bottom of the foot.

Continue for 2 minutes, then repeat on the other foot

A frozen bottle of water can be a soothing alternative if no suitable balls are available.

9. Achilles stretch

The Achilles tendon is a cord connecting the heel to the calf muscles. It can strain easily, and keeping it strong may help with foot, ankle, or leg pains.



To do this exercise:

Face a wall and raise the arms, so that the palms rest flat against the wall.

Place one foot back, keeping the knee straight. Then bend the knee of the opposite leg.

Keep both heels flat on the floor.

Push the hips forward, until the Achilles tendon and calf muscles can be felt stretching.

Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat three times on each side.

For a slightly different stretch, bend the back knee and push the hips forward.

Foot health and safety tips

To keep feet strong and healthy:

Complete a thorough warmup routine before exercising.

Wear supportive footwear for day-to-day activities and sports.

Replace shoes when they are worn down.

Build up strength and flexibility slowly, to condition feet and ankles.

Avoid uneven surfaces, especially when running. Try not to run uphill too often.

Listen to the body and do not overdo activities.

Prevent any recurrence of injury by resting and receiving appropriate treatment.

Keeping the feet and ankles healthy is always a good idea. The exercises above can help to ease existing pain, prevent discomfort, and reduce chances of injury.

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