When I wrote my post on taking care of your feet, I realized that I had not even touched on exercise for the feet - so here is another installment to remedy that omission because, just like the rest of your body, your feet need exercise to stay in shape. And like the rest of your body, one of the best forms of exercise for your feet is walking, and walking is a good way to protect your feet from the injuries that can occur with more strenuous exercise such as running and jogging.
Walking for feet
Apart from many other health benefits from walking, regular walking is especially good for your feet because it strengthens the foot muscles and conditions them so that if you do subject them to unusual strain, they are much less likely to be injured or to ache afterwards. In addition, walking continuously moves joints without placing them under great pressure so it is often recommended as an excellent form of exercise for those with foot-joint problems such as arthritis
, gout and bunions.
Another plus is because walking is a "weight-bearing exercise" so it strengthens the bones in your feet, lessening the chance of fracture and helping to prevent severe bone problems such as osteoporosis. Studies have shown that postmenopausal women actually increased their bone mass through a regular walking routine. So that is excellent news.
In addition to walking, there is more you can do to exercise your feet in a safe way and without risk of injury.
Here are 4 special foot exercises
Derived by Jacqueline Sutera (a podiatric surgeon in New York) she suggests carrying them out twice a day – preferably morning and night.
1. Toe grip
for strengthening the foot muscles in order to improve your balance. Drop a sock on the floor and use your toes to grip and lift it off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds before releasing. This exercise should be repeated 5 times with each foot.
2. Toe extension
for strengthening and supporting the muscles as well as protecting the foot's bones. Wrap an elastic band around all five toes. Then expand your toes and hold for five seconds before releasing. As before, repeat this exercise 5 times with each foot.
3. Calf raise
for strengthening the foot and the calves while improving balance. Stand near a counter or a doorway and hold on lightly for balance. Balance on one foot and rise up onto your toes. Hold for 10 seconds before lowering. This exercise should be repeated 10 times with each foot.
4. Calf stretch
for preventing the Achilles tendons and the plantar fasciae from getting tight. Sit with one leg stretched out in front of you and wrap a towel around the ball of the foot. Pull the towel back gently until you feel a stretch in the arch of the foot and the calf. Hold for 10 seconds before releasing. This exercise should be repeated 5 times with each foot.
If you have ever done ballet, you will know how well your feet are exercised in that discipline but I am not suggesting you should suddenly take up ballet again. These exercises will do the job!
Jacqueline Sutera goes on to suggest rewarding your feet after exercise with a frozen-golf-ball massage. This is achieved by placing a golf ball in the freezer and then using it to get into the tiny muscles of the foot, by rolling it under each foot while sitting down. Certainly something different.