When was the last time you set aside a few minutes to exercise your feet and toes? Odds are, unless you have a foot injury and have been advised to do so from a physical therapist, you’ve barely even thought about it.
We often take our feet and toes for granted, and don’t really pay attention to them unless there’s a problem. But doing basic exercises and stretches can go a long way in soothing pain and keeping your feet healthy and strong. Here are six easy exercises you can do to keep your feet and toes in good shape.
#1. Big Toe Stretch
The big toe stretch is an excellent stretch for anyone who suffers from pain caused by tight shoes that squeeze your toes together.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position with your legs outstretched in front of you. Use your thumb and index finger to gently pull back on your big toe. You should feel a stretch along the bottom of your foot and in your calf muscle, and, of course, in your big toe. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then release and do it again.
To feel the full benefits of the big toe stretch, you should also switch to wearing more comfortable footwear. Natural shoes are a great option for letting your toes and feet spread out and breathe.
#2. Toe Spread
Not only do toe spreads help soothe the joints and ligaments in your toes, they also encourage proper alignment of your feet, which has a domino effect on helping other ailments.
To do the toe spread, simply sit with both feet flat on the ground in front of you. Spread your toes as wide as possible, then hold for a few seconds before releasing. Repeat this several times.
If you find it difficult to do this exercise with your toes alone, you can try using toe spreaders or toe separators. They can help your toes stay in the correct position, and can be worn while doing activities like cleaning, working, or even exercising.
#3. Toe Curls
Toe curls are a great way to strengthen your toes and the muscles in your feet. This exercise is also helpful in improving balance and coordination, and maintaining proper mobility in your toes.
Sit or stand with both feet flat on the ground in front of you, then curl your toes under so that they’re resting on the balls of your feet. Repeat ten times. To help with the exercise, you can sit with a towel underneath your feet and try to scrunch it with your toes every rep.
#4. Calf Raise to Big Toe Press
This exercise works your calves, hamstrings, and glutes while also giving your big toe a workout. By doing calf raises regularly, you can improve your balance and coordination while also strengthening the muscles in your feet.
Start by standing with both feet flat on the ground shoulder-width apart. Slowly raise up your heels as far as you can go, pressing your big toe toward the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat. We recommend doing three sets of 10 reps to start with.
#5. Tennis Ball Roll
If you want to get a good all-around stretch for your feet, the tennis ball roll is the stretch for you. By massaging the muscles and tendons of the bottom of your foot, the tennis ball roll can relieve plantar fasciitis.
To do this stretch, stand with both feet flat on the ground and place a tennis ball under one foot. Roll the tennis ball around with your foot for several minutes, then switch to the other foot. You can also try freezing or warming the tennis ball beforehand for an extra effect.
#6. Towel Stretch
This toe and foot stretch is another great option for sufferers of plantar fasciitis and other conditions that affect tendons, muscles, and ligaments along the length of their feet, like the extensors.
To do this stretch, sit on the ground with both legs outstretched in front of you. Take a towel and place it around the ball of one or both feet then gently pull back on both ends of the towel until you feel a stretch in your foot and toes. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute before release, then repeat with the other foot.
There are many easy exercises that you can do to improve the health of your feet and toes, whether you’re trying to relieve existing pain or trying to prevent pain in the future. By including toe stretches and exercises in your daily routine, you can improve your balance, coordination, and mobility while also strengthening the muscles and tendons in your feet.