Foot Care Routine: Easy moves to strengthen your feet and ankles
A health trend that has been garnering much attention is the advice to walk 10,000 steps each day for a healthy body, while most of us may struggle a bit to match these numbers, even the people leading very sedentary lives manage somewhere between 2000 to 3000 steps a day.
Each step that we take involves a composite network of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Our feet really do the donkey’s share of work lugging our weights around.
Doctors say that the foot health can be a clue to your health. For example, stiff joints could be symptom of arthritis while tingling or numbness could be a sign of diabetes and swelling may indicate diseases ranging from kidney andheart disease to high blood pressure. Most of the people do not give much attention to their feet and ankles.
People engage in various activities including running, jogging, cycling, and yoga to keep fit, but they forget that all these forms of fitness exercises are aided by strong feet and ankles. Strengthening the feet and ankles is the key for an overall healthy body since they are the parts of our body which handle the weight of the entire body.
Here we discuss some foot care routines that you can easily follow at home. So kick off your shoes, and get ready to relax and strengthen your feet and ankle muscles.
- Heel Raise and Toe Lift
These two are easy exercises you can engage in while doing many of your daily activities. For a heel raise, you simply need to stand or sit with your feet at about hip width apart. Now slowly lift the heels upwards until only your toes support the entire weight of your legs, hold for some seconds and then lower. Repeat a few times.
This fast and simple exercise not only helps in developing flexibility in the front foot but also stimulates the reflexology points in the feet corresponding to the heart and lungs and hence helps for cardiovascular workout too.
You can do a toe lift with just lifting your big toes off the ground while keeping all other on the floor. This may be repeated two to three times. The muscles that you use while lifting the big toes are one of the strongest muscles in the feet. This exercise helps in restoring strength to this group of muscles and helps strengthen feet and improve stability of the ankles.
- Toe Spreading
Toe separation helps in mobilizing the bones, muscles, and connective tissues and leads to improved muscle strength and circulation. For this exercise you need to sit on a comfortable chair and rest your left ankle on the thigh of the right leg. Separate the toes of your left feet by weaving your right hand fingers through them. The aim is to spread the toes like a fan and not try and pull them up or down. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
- Top of the Foot Stretch
The top of the foot stretch targets foot and toe muscles that tighten due to extreme flip-flop or slip-on shoe use. To being with, stand on right leg, keep your arms to the side and extend the left leg behind you. Now turn the left toes under and slowly press your ankle to the floor until you feel a stretch at the top end of your foot. Hold this pose for a minute. Its best to start with smaller holds and progress on to longer. The same needs to be repeated with the other foot and leg too.
- Standing Foot Massage
In our foot are a total of thirty three joints. Earlier when the humans did not make use of footwear and did not lead such a sedentary lifestyle as prevalent today , these joints used to be mobilized through regular walking over rough surfaces, pebbles etc . Now since our feet are only exposed to a flat sole and smooth ground these particular joints become immobile and their connecting muscles become stiff.
The standing foot massage exercise introduces a range of motions through use of a tennis ball. For this exercise you should start by standing with a tennis ball under the arch of one foot. Now put your weight on the ball slowly while moving the foot forward and backward. This stance applies pressure to individual joints within the foot. This exercise can be done for up to 3 minutes per foot.
- Toe Fan
For this exercise you need to lift and lower your toes like a fan to make your small toe rise to the same level as your big toe. Repeat 4 times. This exercise will strengthen the muscles in your front lower leg as well as your toes. Increased strength and flexibility in your toes can lead to a stronger feet and ankle.
In this exercise you need to grip the floor with your toes and release. You have to be careful to ensure that you are gripping the floor and not simply curling the toes. This exercise should be repeated four times. It is good for the ankle strength.
Take a few minutes to do these moves each day. You should find this improving your balance, flexibility and alignment. Regular foot exercise also reduces chances of foot injury. Other than these exercises you should find out some time in your routine for regular walking since it is the best overall foot exercise which pts the feet through full range of motion.
Treat your body right by focusing on your feet and ankles. Once you start with these moves, you will notice improvements in your agility and strength. Also ensure to keep your feet and ankles healthy by wearing well-fitted and comfortable shoes, washing them regularly and giving them some gentle attention in the form of a hot soak or simple massage from time to time.