Welcome back to 2-Minute Tuesdays! This week we are talking about exercises you can do at home or at the gym to strengthen your feet. If you check out the video below, you will see footage of actual exercises you can do on your own wherever you are at. Foot issues are one of the most common complaints we hear of at Muscle Activation Schaumburg, and we have a unique approach to assessing and addressing the feet using both resistance training and Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®). Incorporating the exercises below into your workout routine can help to keep your feet strong and functioning well, allowing you to stay active and do all the things you enjoy most. Check them out!
1) Calf Raises
The first exercise to help strengthen your feet is one of the most common lower-leg exercises–calf raises. Calf raises can be done standing on flat ground or on a block to allow your heels to drop lower. Either way, make sure you are raising and lowering your body with control and focus on squeezing your calves as your body goes up and down.
Action Step: Use a bench or something else to hold on to so you don’t have to worry about balancing while doing this exercise.
2) Ankle Dorsiflexion
The second exercise to help strengthen your feet is a toe lift, also known as ankle dorsiflexion. For this exercise, make sure you are seated with your feet flat on the ground. Pick your big toe up and point it towards the middle of your knee, squeezing through the front of your lower leg, called your anterior tibialis muscle.
Action Step: Really focus on squeezing your anterior tibialis during this exercise. It is easy to just let your foot flop up and down, however, you will get far more benefit – and a better challenge to the muscles – if you focus on squeezing your anterior tibialis muscle intensely as you slowly lift your foot up.
The next exercise to help strengthen your feet is called inversion, which is also known as making an arch with your foot. Often times people try to use external supports, such as shoes and orthotics, to help their feet keep an arch. However, your muscles are supposed to be doing this job, and this exercise can help you strengthen them.
For this exercise, make sure you are seated with your feet flat on the ground. Think about pulling the inside arch of your foot up towards the inside part of your knee. You may notice that your knee flops out as you do this. You may also notice that your big toe curls under. Both of these are normal mechanical reactions.
Action Step: Make sure you are not rolling onto the outside of your foot to create this motion, but rather squeezing through the inside part of your leg to use your muscles to lift your arch.
The final exercise to help strengthen your feet looks similar to the last one, but it is the opposite motion, called eversion. Eversion will work on the flattening of your arch, which is an important motion for your muscles to be able to control, even if you already have flat arches.
For this exercise, you will be seated again, but this time instead of thinking about pulling the inside of your foot up, think about pulling the outside of your foot up towards the outside part of your knee. You should feel the muscles on the outside part of your leg squeezing. You may notice your knee dives down and in and your little toes lift up. Both of these are normal mechanical reactions.
Action Step: Similar to inversion above, make sure you are using the muscles of your lower leg to drive eversion and not the muscles of your hip. You should feel your inside arch start to flatten as you lift the outside of your foot up, and you should definitely feel the muscles on the lower outside part of your leg working.