How can runners improve foot muscle strength?

Given the feet do so much work when we run, it’s surprising how little attention they get when it comes to strengthening and maintenance. The importance of arch stabilisation cannot be understated. If you strengthen foot muscles, you will have better energy return and will reduce the chance of common foot injuries like plantar fasciitis.

A quick routine to strengthen foot muscles

Arch strengthening

Sit on a chair with your feet flat to the floor. This exercise works best when done without shoes. Keep your toes neutral (don’t curl or extend them) and try to shorten the muscles in your arches in one foot. It can be difficult at first. Concentrate until you can consciously contract these muscles in each foot. As you get comfortable with this, try it standing, and then standing on one foot only.

Big toe strengthening

Your big toe works very hard to maintain stability and balance while running. With feet to the floor, press your big toe into the ground while stretching out your other toes. Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds and repeat on each side 10 times.

Toe strengthening

This can be conducted sitting, standing or with your feet in the air (it feels different in each position and all are quite satisfying and beneficial). Simply splay your toes as wide as you can, stretching them out and apart from each other. Hold them splayed for 5-10 seconds before relaxing. Do this throughout the day.

Calf raises

This can be done in progression if you cannot achieve the full range of motion at first try. This will strengthen foot muscles each time you attempt it. Starting barefoot, stand on a step with heels overhanging the edge. Let your heels drop and then press up onto the balls of your feet. (Start this from a flat surface and push up onto your forefoot if the step is too difficult). For an additional challenge, continue raising until you are balancing on your big toes. You may need to hold onto a railing to aid balance. This exercise can be done in one fluid movement.

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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.

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