How are your feet?
Awesome and supportive?
Or do they piss you off…
- by feeling like bricks in the morning?
- burning and hurting at the end of the day?
- hurt or feel weak throughout your day?
If any of those resonate with you, I hear your pain.
Here’s the thing. My feet have been a big pain for a lot of my life. Pissing me off in ALL the above ways.
Even though I spent every summer barefoot as often as possible and continue to do so as an adult.
It could be genetics, or shitty shoes as a kid, or just never developing the muscles I needed in my feet, but I have struggled with a lot of ongoing issues with my feet, ankles, knees and hips.
Strong feet are HUGE in creating supported, hips, knees and ankles.
So, if you have sore feet or knees, and/or weak hips or ankles give these foot mobility and strength building movements a try.
Your feet WILL improve over time.
It doesn't take much but....
it does take something,
it takes repeated small effort, over a span of time.
These moves are great for you if:
You get brick feet in the morning - do these before you get out of bed.
You generally want to make your feet stronger, to support your hips, knees and ankles - do these any time during the day, when you have a minute to play with your feet.
Summer makes this way easier as sandals slip off quickly.
Do these at the beach, in bed, drinking a cool beverage, while watching TV, really anywhere you aren't wearing your shoes...
Beware of cramping! If that happens to you, scroll down and read the bit about cramping and what to do about it below the exercises.
Disclaimer: I'm not great at all of these, and you probably won't be either but that's why I'm doing them :)
1. Point and flex your whole foot including your ankles and toes.
It's pretty simple, but pay attention to making this move slow and smooth, gradually increasing your range. You can hold it and intensify the muscle contraction at any point to develop more strength and endurance.
Ankle circles with a full point and flex
Aim for smooth transitions all round the circle, including what your toes are doing. Mine isn't super smooth, my big toe and other toes aren't on the same page of when to transition from pointing to flexing. Do it all the ways, just include the toes in that business.
Flointing and plexing
Floint=point your foot (away from your shin) and flex your toes (towards your shin)
Plex=flex your foot (bring it towards your shin) and point your toes (away from your shin)
or maybe its the other way around. They are both made up words anyways, call it whatever you want. You get the idea, toes go in the opposite direction as the big toe, and then reverse it.
Spread your toes
Sometimes it's easier to start doing this one like in yoga where you lift your toes first and then spread them. Go ahead and try that too. If that works for you see if you can then spread them when they are on the ground.
Take your big toe in the opposite direction from your other toes.
This one is really hard on my brain, and as you can see in the video, my big toe is better at pointing than flexing. Pay attention to what you are good at and get curious and playful about the parts that are difficult.
You can do this move unweighted (sitting) or with weight (standing). See which is easier for you to start with and do that first. The key here is to keep your toes relaxed, and activate your main arch to pull your big toe joint towards your heel.
Trying to do some of these may make your brain hurt.
Your brain may just not know how to do them and in response it may try to activate all the muscles and go into a big nasty cramp....
Don’t push through it.
Don’t be discouraged!
It will only hurt like the bejeezus and you will NEVER try these again.
That’s what happened for me the first few times I tried these type of moves, with my feet.
In response, I didn’t try again for a few years, and then I experienced the same thing.
I didn’t figure it out till the next time I tried a few years later.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner.
Don't be like me.
Do this instead...
- Keep breathing long and slow
- Keep the movement very small and slow at first. Even a millimeter of movement to start is wicked! At the first sign of muscle cramp, BACK OFF. Then try again a bit smaller and softer. Let your brain figure it out. Soon enough, it will have it sorted, and your ability to move that way will increase, without cramping. Then, you can increase the range, or intensity, or length of the hold, to get that muscle configuration strong and working to support you. The movements that are super difficult for you are your gold mines.
- If you can’t get any movement, DON'T FREAK OUT, or tell yourself you suck, or any of that crap. Your body is amazing at learning new things. Give it a chance. It responds way better to curiosity and exploration. Allow yourself to be bad at it. A lot of awesome stuff happens when you allow that.
- Do these OFTEN. Your best improvement will come from doing some, or all of these moves regularly. Could be every day or second day, or even twice a day if you are feeling motivated. Just don't do them lots in one day and then wait for 2 weeks before you do it again, cause that will take you forever to get any results. Small consistent action will get you there the fastest.
Are you going to give any of these a try?
Did you, or have you tried any of these?
Let me know!
I want to know how it goes.
Interesting note: YouTube seems to have a foot fetish. It kept marking these vids as adult content no matter what I did :) Had to move it all to Vimeo, so far they seem to think foot exercises are just that.