The strength of your feet effects how you stand and walk and in turn, effects your posture. Follow the five steps below to have stronger, more flexible feet.
The average person walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles. That is a lot of movement of the 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that make up each foot. Walking can be hard on your body and spine if there are altered mechanics in your feet.
Think of it like a skyscraper – if the foundation is off, the rest of the building can be altered, leading to stresses on structures that they may not have been designed to cope with them. For example, if you have flat feet it can cause your knees to collapse inward which could cause anterior pelvic tilt. Which in turn, can cause the shoulders to roll forward effecting the neck area.
What can you do about it?
Strengthening and stretching your feet can offset these imbalances and ease stresses on the joints above. Here are 5 things to do for your feet:
Do the alphabet – sit in a chair with your knees and feet together with your legs straight at the knee. Pretend you are holding a pencil between your two big toes. Without moving at the knee joint, pretend to write the alphabet in capital block letters. Make them as big as possible. This works the muscles of the foot, shin and calves and improves range of motion of the ankle joint.
Pick up a marble – in a sitting position, pick up a marble with your toes and then set it down. Repeat 10 times for each foot. This strengthens the muscles on the bottom of your feet.
Walk on the balls of your feet – this may sound simple but there is a twist. While you are lifting your heels off the floor and walking around, lift your toes off the ground. Nothing is touching the floor except the balls of your feet. This works the calves and the shins. Do this for :30-1:00.
Walk on the heels of your feet – another twist. While lifting your forefoot off the floor, curl your toes. This is harder than it sounds and really works the shin and bottom of the feet. Do this for :30-1:00.
Stretch the calves – stand facing a wall, take a step back with one leg and straighten that leg keeping the heel on the floor. Lean forward until a stretch is felt in the calf of the back leg. Make sure both feet are pointing straight forward. Hold :30-2:00 each side. A flexible muscle moves better and is stronger because it can go through a larger range of motion than a tight muscle.