Flexible Feet are Happy Feet! 

Foot strength and flexibility is very important during the running gait to assist with balance and transition through the running cycle. With 17% of natural shock absorption provided by the Plantar Fascia it is vital the foot has the ability to relax, flex, recoil and tense effectively as each step is taken during running.

The primary toe used for leverage during walking, running and sprinting is the big toe. Shock absorption and forward propulsion utilises the Plantar Fascia (Underneath your foot). We often see tightness, weak muscle strength and limited ankle flexibility in runners which has a negative effect on performance and contributes to risk of injury. Whilst the root cause of this tightness is often not the foot itself, ensuring the foot is flexible and strong is a regular 'maintenance activity' that should be undertaken by all runners! 

We have been performing and recommending the following exercises for a number of years with all of our clients and have received extremely positive results in flexibility, control and in instances reductions in pain of the plantar fascia. 

The exercises below are to be performed to mobilise the foot, big toe, plantar fascia and ankle (plantar flexion). This will create flexibility and give you a greater chance of engaging the correct foot biomechanics whilst running. Perform these daily, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat each exercise 3 times. 

 

1. Gently raise all four toes simultaneously, focus on pressing the big toe into the ground, keeping your foot flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, release and repeat with the other foot.

 

2. Raise your heel off the ground, allow your big toe to be pressed underneath your foot and all four towards forwards. Focus on pressing the big toe into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, release and repeat with the other foot.

 

3. This is the reverse of exercise 2. Raise your heel off the ground, allow your four toes to be pressed underneath your foot and your big toe forward. Focus on pressing the big toe into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, release and repeat with the other foot.

 

4. Kneel down and sit back on your heels. Keep your feet aligned in parrallel so that your soles are facing up and your toes are pointing behind you. This will help increase ankle flexibility as well as stretch the tibialis anterior (front of the shins) and quadriceps (thighs). Hold for 30seconds, rest and repeat.

 

5. Kneel down and sit back on your heels. All toes should be forwards, enabling you to press your metatarsal heads into the floor (metatarsal heads are underneath the base of your toes). Keep the same width between your heels and toes to ensure feet are aligned in parrallel. Focus on body weight primarily over the first and second toe. If possible, push your big toes into the floor repeatedly (known as pulsing). Hold for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.

 

Remember, flexible feet are happy feet!