It’s a great idea to have a body strengthening program to complement your running regime. It’s common to see programs that cover core, upper and lower body.
But what about your feet? Did you know that strengthening your feet can show excellent results and relieve pressure from the rest of your body (which can be compensating for weakness without you realising?)
As with all exercise programs, start off slowly. If you hurt your feet by going too hard too fast, it’s going to make things difficult in every area. Take care and don’t be afraid to start with smaller activities for shorter lengths of time.
If you feel pain, stop immediately. You shouldn’t feel completely comfortable, but sharp or stabbing pains should be avoided.
This could be challenging if the only time your shoes are off is in the shower. Start by walking barefoot around your home. Let your toes splay out and stretch.
As you go barefoot for longer, start balancing on the balls of your feet, lifting up and down. Hang onto something for balance if you need to.
Change the surface texture under your feet
You have hundreds of nerve endings in your feet. Most people’s nerves are dormant there because their feet are constantly protected by shoes. Find some smooth stones to walk on, or even try the pavement.
This will begin to wake up those nerve endings, and can lead to an improvement in associated back pain. If walking on hard textured surfaces doesn’t sound appealing, start with taking a stroll on the grass.
The softer ground will help ease you into it. If you can, experiment with walking on sand. The changing surface will help build stronger feet and encourage better balance.
Stretch your feet
There’s a number of ways to do this. Use rollers to stretch out the three arches in your feet (lateral, transverse and medial arches).
This can be a tender exercise to begin with, so please start slowly and gently. If you don’t have rollers, try incorporating stretch band exercises.
For example, secure a resistance band to a wall, place it over the top of your foot while you’re sitting on the floor, and alternate pulling your foot back against it and relaxing.
Try changing the angle of your feet by placing them on angled boards or even a rolled up towel. This will help stretch everything out.
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