Have you ever thought about the importance of our feet when it comes to how our body functions or lack of function? Our feet, and more specifically, the strength and flexibility we have in our feet, are directly related to how the rest of the body will function. Now that I’ve put the thought in your mind are you asking yourself, are your feet causing your pain?
Our feet are our foundation. They are our way of sensing the ground that we walk on but they are one of the most overlooked areas of focus for exercise to build strength.
How do you know if your feet are causing your pain?
How do you know if your feet are causing your pain and you need to strengthen your feet? Ask yourself the following questions;
- Do your knees cave in during a squat?
- Do you have knee, hip or back pain?
- Do you have poor balance?
- Do you have foot pain?
- Do you have to wear tight supportive shoes to prevent pain and improve balance?
I have always been a flat foot and I thought that was just the way things were and there was nothing I could do about it. When I was a kid I loved sports and being active in any way possible. Around 10 years old my knees swelled so bad that I couldn’t walk after a day at a festival. I was told then that I had chondromalacia. You can click on the link to learn more about it but what it meant to me was that I would have knee pain flare-ups for most of my life. I was told that being a flat foot was the reason I had knee issues. If only I knew then what I know now I could have saved myself a whole lot of pain.
Some things you may not know
The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. This may sound like overkill for a structure that supports your weight, but you may not realize how much work your foot does! https://biologydictionary.net/foot/
Our joints are there so that we are able to move our body. Think of it this way, if our arms did not bend at the elbow we would not be able to feed ourselves. That joint is there so that our arm can bend to give our body the function of movement. Now, just think, how many joints are in our feet? 33! That means when our feet are to be able to move freely they provide feedback to our system so that we can navigate and stay upright through various planes of motion.
How our feet function will affect our gait and since walking is a repetitive movement if things are out of line injuries can happen over time. Our bodies naturally want to be upright and if our alignment issues start at the ground, continue in the knees, then hips, then low back, and so on. Before you know it your whole body can be out of alignment and you could be dealing with chronic pain.
When the muscles in our feet start to become weak, we no longer have the stability our body needs and mechanics can break down, up the chain.
Our arches provide a spring to the step and help to distribute our body weight through the feet and onto the legs. The structure of the arches determines how a person walks. The arches need to be both sturdy and flexible to adapt to stress and a variety of surfaces.
Things You Can Do Improve Your Feet
We’ve just talked about the importance of having strong, flexible feet but how do you make it happen?
Just like every other part of the body, with some time, consistency, and some specific movements you can strengthen your feet.
Start with Mobility
Start with stretching your feet both widening your toes as much as you can without your hands and then do it manually with your hands. Spread the toes wide to the sides and then forward and backward on both feet. Massage your feet to get the blood flowing paying attention to the balls of your feet and your heels. Once you’ve done that follow along, in the following video, for the exercises that will strengthen your feet.
Training Plan for Your Feet
Perform the above foot exercises daily. Each day, try to do just a couple more reps and you will notice your feet becoming stronger, your balance will improve and so will your pain.
If you are a flat foot like me, you may have to be mindful (in the beginning) to try to stand on all 3 points of the feet. It may feel like you’re standing on the outsides of your feet at first. Keep it up and if you are doing those exercises consistently you will start noticing things won’t be hurting quite so much. You will also notice improvements with your posture and your balance.
If you know anyone who suffers with sore feet, knees, hips or low back pain, share this with them. A few exercises a day can go a long way to helping them feel better. Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to know how you do with the exercises, too.