Have you ever worked out your feet? I know it seems like a waist of time and completely unnecessary at first. I have to be honest, I sometimes hesitate to spend a lot of time on the feet in my classes, because I know that it's not a sexy subject. Nowhere near six-packs abs and a tight bum.
But really, our feet are the foundation of the whole body. Everything else in the body is above the feet. And they are supposed to be as flexible as our hands. They should be able to grab things and hold on to roots when walking on forest ground.
So if there is something not working efficiently in your feet, you can bet that there will be some compensatory patterns developing up the kinetic chain, which can result in discomfort in knees, hips, shoulders or any other part for that matter.
Try these 5 quick exercises to improve the movement, strength and flexibility of your feet. Heads up before you read on: I did not have time to get a pedicure before taking these pictures. So view them at your own risk!
Tip 1: Try to lift up your toes and spread them as wide as you can.
As you can see the toes 2, 3 and 4 like each other a lot and don't want to leave a lot of space in between.
I didn't take a pic of my right foot, as I obviously have to hold the camera, but my right foot is not as clingy as my left. Nice space in between each toe. Compare both your feet like this.
My boyfriend (hope you don't mind me sharing this, sweetie) is always shocked when he tries this. His left foot can do this so so, but he is staring at his left and nothing moves. It's as if the highway hasn't been built yet between the brain and the muscles. Then again, he spends many hours in hard cycling shoes so it's no surprise to me.
Tip 2: Try to curl your toes, like this and take a good look.
Can you see all five toe knuckles appear? Many of my students don't see a single one. They're all sunken in, because they never articulate (use) this joint.
Did you know that there are 33 joints in the ankle and foot? Most of us only use the second toe joint (in the picture above it's where my toes curl down, so right where you can't see the rest of my toes anymore.) I have noticed that these joints are often used too much and others not often enough. This brings me to another principle in the human body. But instead of getting side tracked, I will write about at another time.
Tip 3: Use your hand to help
If you can't see all the knuckles, then use your other hand and push up against the sole of the foot directly underneath the knuckle you can't see and it might show up. (Heads up: you might hear the joint cracking, this is usually nothing to worry about, but obviously push gently at first and if pain occurs and persists, consult with your physician.)
Tip 4: Now move these joints in the opposite direction by pressing "onto your toes" like when you're lifting your heel.
Make sure that you are not rolling on top the tips of the toes.
Tip 5: Grab a hand towel with your toes.
These 5 quick exercises will strengthen the muscles of your feet and make them more flexible at the same time.
I would definitely recommend doing this regularly. Use the time during commercial breaks or boring/bad news to look at your feet and go through this quick sequence of exercises.
Remember it all starts with the foundation.
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