Whether you walk, run, cycle, or skateboard or stand about for long periods, taking care of your feet can both ease pain and prevent future injuries. Arthritis UK has stated the two causes of foot pain are plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Here are 5 Top Foot Pain Prevention Exercises to improve both foot strength and flexibility!
1) Eccentric calf press
This works the Gastrocnemius-soleus complex so you should feel the load mostly on your calves. Calf presses have become a standard and effective non-surgical exercise tool for Achilles tendinopathy. Simply use a heightened platform, such as the stairs of a staircase. Bracing yourself using the wall or banister, place your toes comfortably on the edge of a step and go into tiptoe, then gradually lower your heels below the stair line edge to gain a good stretch in your calves then raise yourself back to the starting position.
2) A-Z Ankle rotations
This exercise works the dorsiflexors, plantar flexors, invertors and evertors, so you should feel this in your foot and ankle muscles.
Without your feet touching the ground (either standing or sitting depending on your overall stability and conditioning), lead with your toe to trace the alphabet so it helps move the foot and ankle in all directions, creating a more efficient exercise (as opposed to simple rotations).
3) Towel pickups
This exercise works the plantar flexors, so you should feel this on the top of your toes and foot. Simply sit down with both feet flat on the ground and place a small towel on the floor. Keeping your heel on the ground, pick up the centre of the towel, curling it towards you. To make this exercise more challenging, you could attach a weight to the edge of the towel.
4) Plantar fascia stretch
This exercise stretches the plantar fascia ligament, so you should feel this exercise at the bottom of the foot.
Simply sit down with both feet flat on the ground and use any round object (eg. golf ball, tennis ball, tin can). Using the arch of your foot, roll the round object in all directions. Perform for two minutes on each foot.
5) Bent-knee cord stretch
This exercise stretches the soleus muscle, so you should feel this on the sides of the ankle, heel and calf.
Stand facing a wall, both heels firmly at the floor and with your chosen leading leg forward with a slight bend at the knee. With your other leg behind you, knee bent, toes slightly pointed in and pressing your hips toward the wall, perform and hold the stretch for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds then repeat for 2 sets of 10, this is recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
As a general guideline, take a few moments to warm up to avoid injury risk. If you do not know how to perform the exercise effectively, consult a fitness professional, doctor or physical therapist to ensure both effective and safe exercising. And have fun! activities such as a strength and flexibility programs can be done in fun and challenging ways so make sure you include a variety of moves such as the ones listed and you will feel the benefits of increased stability, mobility and freedom!