For feet and toes need you!
When did you last think about the health of your feet and the investments that you are making for their future? You might think such a question is more relevant to your bank balance than to the bottom of your legs but allow me to suggest otherwise. Your feet and toes, being the first contact with the ground, are what determine the entire posture of the rest of your body; toe to head, literally.
The power of a grain of sand
Think of how a small grain of sand quietly rubbing away in your shoe, soon becomes so large in its effect it can alter the entire way in which you move your body. So having stiff tight or weak toe foot or ankle joints and muscles, can have the same effect as the grain of sand in terms of how your body responds.
However, it can be so insidious. It’s only when it reaches a point where your body can no longer accommodate this anomaly (triggered perhaps by a longer walk or run than usual, a simple sprain, a new pair of shoes or undertaking a different activity) you discover you are the owner of new ache or pain.
Falling in love with your feet
Most of us would rather not dwell too long looking down at the ten little wigglers. Given the amount of time and energy we can set aside to moisturise, prep, stretch, strengthen and tone other regions of our bodies, if you gave even a smidge of that time to your feet, the potential dividends are immense.
You may not notice the immediate sea change but doing nothing to invest in your feet, runs the risk of pain, poor balance and trouble with shoes fitting in the future. You don’t have to do a lot, you simply have to do a little (and weakly twiddling them up and down DOESN’T COUNT…)
Be brave ~ take a long hard look
Follow the images below to see how much movement you have in your toes. If it’s only a little, think of the harsh impact this will have on your ankle knees and hips due to the reduced ability of your foot to mould to the ground. This can lead to ineffective absorption and distribution of the normal stresses and strains of walking which are then forced up to the rest of your body.
What progress looks life
Many of you might try these exercises and think it is beyond hope, your feet just won’t follow the orders coming from your brain. That maybe the case in the first instance and stiff inflexible feet might make these actions very difficult to do. HOWEVER, your feet were designed to move like this. Consider those without hands and the mind boggling dexterity of their feet.
Even if what you feel is simply the muscles in your feet engaging but no actual toe movement taking place, that is a mighty win! It might be as good as it gets if your feet have significantly changed shape and stiffened up over time. Nonetheless it’s still a win because if the muscles are engaging you are acquiring greater stability and strength in your feet. This will help to slow further deterioration, weakening and deformity which will inevitably happen if you do nothing.
Mexican wave your toes
Lift all toes keeping the ball and heel of your foot on the ground
Place toes down to floor one at a time starting with little toes
Reverse pattern, starting with big toes
Big toe lift
Keeping the ball and heel of your foot on the ground
Relaxing all other toes while lifting big toes upwards
Keeping the ball and heel of your foot on the ground
Spread all toes as far apart from each other as possible
Imagine you are wiping something sticky from the underside of your toes
Difficult to see here, but your toes remain straight as you lift your foot knuckles up.
Not like this with your toes curled under…
To help with this exercise the movement for your foot looks like this with your hand:
Fingers remain straight while your knuckles bridge upwards
Try walking barefoot
Barefoot walking at home can offer lots of health benefits. It increases the awareness of your senses through the contact with the different surfaces and temperatures underfoot. This reconnection with the ground allows you to better understand how your foot is planted and how you transfer your weight from your heel to the front of your foot, as you propel yourself forwards.
If you find that you are landing heavily on your heel, try to transfer more of your weight towards the front of your foot as you walk. This can be hard to do initially but keep on keeping on with it because repeatedly loading the heel excessively, can lead to heel pain and other foot problems.
Barefoot walking also provides an opportunity to see how your whole posture can be directly influenced by the placement of your feet. Obviously if you have severe deformity and other foot problems, to walk without shoes is not advisable here, however you can still do the exercises above. Start with a few minutes initially with shorter softer landing steps which reduces the impact for your out of practiced foot muscles and joints.
I’m here to help
If you’re unsure about any of what’s mentioned here, do get in touch. You can reach me via the contact page on my website.
Helen R Morrison 13th February 2018 at 5:48 am
Brilliant!! Psychic connection this time? I had a bruised toe last week and very painful to walk on. All better now and ready for these exercises!!
Rachel Kili 13th February 2018 at 6:56 am
Glad to hear your toe is improving. As you begin the exercises you will be able to see the difference between your two feet in terms of strength and flexibility. In time the exercises will reduce the differences and help ensure your feet remain more dexterous and supportive.
Good luck and any other comments let me know!