Footwork for Happy Feet

Who needs to take care of their feet? We all do. We frequently take our feet for granted and just expect them to keep us going. By the time many of us reach the age of 50, we have walked about 75,000 miles that’s approximately three laps around the earth! We rarely take notice of them, unless we have foot pain. Then we can’t help but notice them! The common activities of daily living become difficult, if not impossible, without the foundation of healthy, pain-free feet.
The damaging effects of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis, can be lessened with an active lifestyle. Healthy feet enable us to be active and they affect our balance and our posture. As a result, our feet really affect the rest of our bodies in many different ways.


Just as we exercise any part of the body to keep it strong and functioning, we need to do the same with our feet. Daily inspection and massage, as well as strengthening and stretching exercises take very little time and the pay-off can make a very big difference in our lives.
Here are a few things that you can do to maintain or improve the way your feet feel. Spending five to 10 minutes a day exercising your feet can make a world of difference in your life!


Home Exercise Program


Perform the following exercise one to two times per day for five to 10 minutes:

  • Cross one ankle onto the opposite leg and “shake hands” with your foot-use hand cream if needed to assist with getting your fingers between your toes.
  • Rotate ankle several times in each direction.
  • Spread fingers/squeeze toes alternately.
  • Pull foot & toes toward you-stretch your shin muscles.
  • Push foot & toes away from you-stretch sole of foot & Achilles tendon.
  • Gently twist and pull each toe-like “this little piggy went to market.”
  • Massage the ball of the foot.
  • Massage the sole of the foot; begin at the ball of the foot and work toward the heel.
  • Find all of edges of the heel, then work your way back to the ball of the foot. Use your knuckles or fist to gently rub deeper into the sole of your foot.
  • On the top of the foot, beginning at the space between each toe, massage gently between each bone of the foot moving toward the ankle.
  • Use an old tennis ball, soup can or water bottle to roll out the sole of the foot.

Do the following toe exercises with your feet flat on the floor; don’t let the edge of your foot roll off the floor. Even if the toes do not cooperate, notice the muscles of the foot and lower leg engage. You may even feel muscles working all the way up to your hips, abs and low back.


Beginners:

 

  • Pick up only the big toe, keep the four little toes on the floor, and do not let them “claw.”

  • Switch; Big toes on the floor while you pick up the four little toes.
  • Go back and forth a couple of times.
  • Keep all the toes on the floor and “claw” only the big toes.

More Advanced:

  • Keep the pinky toes and the big toes on the floor while lifting the three middle toes.
  • Switch; Lift the pinky and big toe while keeping the three middle toes on the floor.

References:


· Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Bodyworkers, Tom Myers, Kinesis, Inc. 2004
· Great Feet for Life: Footcare & Footwear for Healthy Aging, Paul Langer, DPM, 2007
· Jenny Otto, 9th Annual Yoga Therapy Training, Setting the Foundation, May 3-4, 2008 Golden Heart Yoga, Annapolis, MD
· Physical Examination of the Spine & Extremities, Stanley Hoppenfeld, 1976, Chapter 8