As a runner I’m sure you’re aware of the need to do strength and conditioning exercises to make sure your core and glutes are strong but do you do any exercises specifically for your feet? You might never have considered it, but weak feet can lead to pain, poor running style and a higher risk of injury. Things we could certainly do without!
Strong feet will help you run with good running form and biomechanics. This in turn will make your running more efficient and therefore easier (yay!). It will also make you less prone to injuries because what happens at your feet has a knock on effect to what’s going on further up your body. Exercises to strengthen your feet also help to improve your co-ordination and balance too making you less likely to trip and fall, both now and in your future.
Who needs to do foot strengthening exercises?
All runners should make strengthening their feet part of their routine but there are several situations where it’s particularly important:
- You’re a new runner
- You have a sedentary job and don’t spend a lot of time on your feet
- You get a lot of foot pains
- You’ve always been told you have flat feet
- You wear trainers with arch support – some people need these but many just need to strengthen their feet!
How do I strengthen my feet?
Good news! There are some simple exercises you can do to strengthen your feet AND you can do them while you’re sitting down so you can give your feet a work out while you’re at your desk or watching TV.
Here are five quick exercises to strengthen feet:
(Slip your shoes off and do these barefoot or in your socks)
- Tip-toe raises. Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Slowly raise your heels off the ground and work through your feet until just the balls of your feet are on the floor. Hold for five seconds. Then lift the balls of your feet off the ground until you are on your tip toes. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower back down to the balls of your feet and then your heels, ending with your feet flat on the floor. Repeat ten times.
- Foot scrunchers. Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your toes on the ground, try to draw the balls of your feet towards your heels and ‘shorten’ your feet. Your foot arch will lift off the ground as you do this but try to keep your heels and toes in contact with the floor. Repeat ten times. You can do this one foot at a time or both feet together.
- Paper picker. Put a piece of paper on the ground underneath one of your (bare) feet. Try to lift the paper off the ground by scrunching your foot together (see above). Aim to pick it up with your foot and not just your toes. Try this a few times with each foot.
- Foot tappers. Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your heels on the ground, lift your forefeet off the floor and then quickly tap your foot back down to the floor and quickly off again. Try to do 20, it’s harder than it sounds. Have a rest and do another set.
- Toe separators. Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Spread your toes apart and hold for five seconds then squeeze them together for five seconds. Repeat ten times or until your feet are tired.
If you’re somewhere you don’t want to take your shoes off then you’ll still benefit from doing the exercises (except the paper picker). Another good tip is to be barefoot whenever you can to naturally strengthen the small muscles in your feet.
You can fit these exercises into your day with very little effort. The hardest part is to remember to do them! Once you make it a habit then whenever you’re sitting at your desk you will find yourself working your feet. Start today and keep going!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog you’ll love my book Run Well: Essential health questions and answers for runners. There’s plenty more in there about runner’s feet as well as every other part of your body too!
Featured Image from Pexels – EVG Kowalievska