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6 Steps to Healthy Feet

Healthy Lifestyle

Many of us spend a lot of time being concerned about the condition of our ankles, hips and knees, but strong, healthy, happy feet are the foundation of every step in our lives. 

Exercises improve function and flexibility

Large movements, like your balance and walking, are dependent on well-functioning feet. Walking is one of the best exercises for your entire body, as well as your feet.

Flexibility and resistance exercises are other great ways to keep your feet healthy. When flexibility and strength are compromised, there is more of a risk of injury as muscles and ligaments aren’t able to bend, move and stretch to their full potential. 

We have 33 joints in each foot and more than a hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments that are really only used when your joints change position. 

Time to step up

Below are some exercises you can do barefoot to improve flexibility, dexterity and strength in your toes, and keep your feet limber. Go slowly with these stretches, and realize you may have cramping if you haven’t moved these muscles for a while. 

Any time you are barefoot, make sure you have a clear space of floor to work in, and always check for sharp items or anything you could possibly step on. 

Give these exercises a try:

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and use your big toe to make circles in the air. Start with one foot and do 15-20 circles and then alternate to the left side and do the same. First move your toes clockwise, then do a set on both sides moving counterclockwise. 
  • Stand and roll a tennis ball under your foot. Make sure you cover each area of your foot. Move your foot forward, back and side to side to cover each area of your foot with some pressure, working the entire sole of the foot. 
  • To stretch the bottom of your feet, stand with feet together. Step back with your left leg and raise your heel with your toes pressing toward the ground. Doing this, you will feel a slight pull of the muscles on the bottom of your feet. Hold this for about 30 seconds and repeat on your other foot. 
  • Spread your toes, and stretch them away from each other. Shift your weight back on your heels. If you are unable to spread your toes, sit down and help them out by spreading them with your hand. If you don’t ever spread them you can lose the ability, but with practice you can improve it. Point your toes and while standing, work on lifting only your big toe. 
  • To improve foot, toe and ankle mobility, you can do a top of the foot stretch. Sit with your feet flat on floor on the front edge of a chair. Reach one of your feet back and tuck your toes under. It’s important to keep your heel in the center and slowly allow your foot to lower as the tissues allow. After you can do this stretch sitting, try it standing and holding onto a chair or the wall.
  • Try standing on one foot for 10 seconds and alternate to the other foot as well. First, hold lightly onto a wall or chair. This will also build core strength and help with balance. 

Having the correct information and warming up can make all the difference to keeping your feet healthy, happy and active with your fitness. 

Brenda Herrod

About the Author:

Brenda Herrod is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about inspiring and sharing her healthy lifestyle with others.

She is also an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach, and Precision Nutrition Health Coach working with employees at Methodist Health System.

See More Articles by Brenda Herrod