Education is key when it comes to taking power over your own health and wellness. When you need support, knowing more about how your body works will help you ask the right questions and understand the answers from your medical or wellness team. I look at the role movement can play in your health, wellness and recovery to full and optimal function. The articles are not meant to take the place of medical advice and should not be used as such.
All your favourite foot exercises gathered in one convenient place (with links)
Going up and down hills requires some ankle and foot mobility and strength that you can train for on various slopes. Going sideways requires a movement in the foot called inversion and eversion; the foot is tilted sideways relative to the leg.
Youtube: Hill walking
Here's one you can do on your back with a yoga block or book etc.
Going straight up a gentler hill. This video talks about knees and hips but it also requires mobility of the ankle to go uphill.
Vimeo: Walking Uphill
This is great if you have tight calves because the front of your leg can be working overtime against that resistance. Also good for the arch muscles as it shortens them passively. Don't be surprised if they cramp on you.
Instagram: Top of Foot Stretch
Can be done in the studio (in a chair or on the floor) to prepare for climbing hills, or just to assess the movement and mobilise the sub-tarsal joints and extrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle.
Youtube: Ankle circles short
A longer video with more direction on ankle circling can be found on Vimeo: Ankle circles long
When you move your ankles are you also moving your toes? This happens a lot in walking and you might notice it if your toe nails wear out the top of your shoes. Try this video to see if you can separate the movements of the toes and ankles.
Vimeo: Ankles or toes
Tired of doing circles? Try Figure 8s or Infinity signs instead!
Instagram: Ankle circle variations
The ability to spread the toes apart uses muscles between the toes and bones of the foot. If you wear shoes a lot of the time, particularly tight, constricting or stiff shoes, it might be a while since your toes enjoyed this movement. This might be good to try.
Youtube: Toe spreading
Similarly, you can do this exercise with just the big toe. Especially if you have bunions, you will find this very difficult as the Abductor Hallux muscle is weak and even in the wrong position to make the big toe move. It can take a lot of practice to find it, but it's important to keep trying.
Youtube: Big toe abduction
If you have been shown the exercise that uses a thick elastic around the big toes to pull them apart, you owe it to yourself to watch this video. I have a whole 2 hour course on Bunions and I can show you the safe way to do this exercise here.
Vimeo: Bunion Corrector
Another big toe exercise is flexion of the two joints of the big toe separately. Instagram: Hallux Flexion
There are muscles in your feet that spread the toes apart and move them together. We don't usually prioritise these kinds of skills. However, your feet need to move in all the ways they are meant to in order for those tiny muscles and joints to get their blood and oxygen supply and maintain their health all life long. Vimeo: Toe Abduction/Adduction
Lifting each toe individually can be an exercise in frustration.
Instagram: Toe Lifts
Flattened transverse arch? Hammertoes? This one is for you.
These are the long bones in the foot that the toe bones attach to. They can be squeezed together by your shoes and the muscles and nerves between them suffer (neuromas). Here's a nice way you can massage some movement back into this area
The next series of bones up the foot are the tarsal bones, which articulate with the metatarsals. Here's a nice way to continue with that massage.
Another great one for the ankle/foot and extrinsic muscles of the foot/leg.
Vimeo: Add/Abduction of foot with Dorsiflexion
Also called the Short Foot exercise, you contract the muscles that create the arches in the foot to bring the heel forward (or the ball of the foot backwards). A great one if you've found after a pregnancy (or several) or wearing a cast for a while your foot has "grown" - also great for general foot strength!
Vimeo: Short Foot
Instagram: Short Foot using a ball
Here's a before/after picture of how I rehabbed my foot's arches after a trimalleolar fracture of the ankle and 13 weeks immobilised. Instagram: Ankle Fracture