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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Strengthening Feet

You pamper them. You massage them. You dress them up in designer shoes. But sometimes what your feet really need is a good, old-fashioned workout.

Weak and inflexible feet, often confined to ill-fitting shoes and parked still under a desk all day, can directly contribute to chronic back, hip, knee and shoulder pain. Weak feet and ankles also cause injury to the Achilles tendon, calves, and create issues with your toes.

On average, a person "plants" their foot (Or presses it into the ground) around 10,000 to 15,000 times a day. Each press made into the ground absorbs roughly 300 pounds of force. (Hospital for Special Surgery, New York)

Adding to the stress put on our feet is shoes, especially those that are narrow in the toes. Pushing toes up together in such a limited space decreases their dexterity and ultimately cases surrounding muscles in the foot to deteriorate.

Just as you would dedicate time to exercising your core during a workout, build in some time to focus on your feet as well. To build foot strength, try these simple movements: 
  • Toe extensions - using an elastic band, wrap it around all five toes, then flex, hold for five seconds, and repeat several times on each foot. 
  • Calf raises - stand at a bar or chair and hold lightly while balancing on one foot and rising up onto your toes, hold for several seconds, lower down, and repeat. 
  • Calf stretches - sit with one leg stretched out in front of you and wrap a towel around the ball of the foot, pull towel back gently, hold for at least ten seconds, and alternate and repeat for each leg. 
Lastly, once you have built up a steady exercise routine for your feet, kick off your shoes and go barefoot once in a while. Allowing your feet to breathe and stretch will have positive effects on your feet, and ultimately your entire body's well-being.

(Adapted from Men's Journal)

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