When it comes to exercise, most people overlook two of the most important parts of their body – their feet. They train upper body, lower body, and core without even thinking to strengthen their feet.
But think about it. You use your feet to stand, walk, run, and balance. They serve as your foundation and are responsible for transferring all the force from your body to the ground. When your feet are weak, the rest of your body must compensate for the job your feet can’t do.
The stronger your feet, the stronger your foundation is for everything. Not to mention, strengthening your feet will help alleviate and prevent pain throughout the rest of your body. If your training goal is to be able to move with better strength, balance, power, and control, then you must train the two things that tie it all together.
Before You Start Training Your Feet
Be careful you don’t dive into training your feet too fast.You may create a problem that sets you back. Consider strengthening your feet to be a long-term project. A little goes a long way, and you must slowly build up with constant effort and daily application.
Test how strong your feet are. Do this by using rollers of various densities and diameters. The softer the density and larger the diameter, the easier it will be on your feet. To begin, don’t apply your full body weight to a roller. It’s generally a good idea to begin seated. Carefully test how much pressure you can handle before applying more.
If you feel pain back off and only do what you can handle. The ideal amount of pressure can be defined as “delicious discomfort.” It has to feel somewhat uncomfortable in order to stimulate positive change, but the key is applying just the right amount that you can handle without bracing, retracting, defending against the pressure.
3 Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Feet
You may not be able to do these all the time, but you can certainly do some of them right away. Your feet didn’t become weak overnight, and it will take a consistent effort to build them up.
1. Ditch Your Shoes
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your feet is to simply get them out of shoes more often. Begin slowly at first so you don’t make your feet too sore. This can be as simple as taking your shoes off when you’re inside your home.
With your shoes off, raise up onto your toes and try standing and walking propped up on the balls of your feet. You’ll likely feel this creates a significant balance challenge. If this is the case, perform heel raises as repetitions – raising up and descending down – touching a wall or holding a door frame for balance, if necessary.
As you get stronger barefoot, you can up the duration and become more active (like running and jumping barefoot – but take it easy and don’t go too fast), which will continue to build strong stable feet.
2. Run on Sand
This may not be possible for those who don’t have access to a beach, but gently running in sand is a great way to increase the strength and flexibility in your feet. If you don’t have a sandy beach nearby, you can try walking and running barefoot on grass or any soft surface in the warmer weather. A surface like grass that is soft and yields to your weight will help improve the joint articulation within your feet, while increasing range of motion and strength in the process.
3. Walk on Rocks
This might sound kind of crazy, but walking or even just standing and shifting your weight on smooth rocks – the type of small smooth stones people use to landscape portions of their properties – will do wonders for your feet and your entire body.
The changing and shifting surface of these rocks will help activate all of the proprioceptive nerves that exist under your feet. There are lots of them and these nerves connect directly with the lower back. Unfortunately, these nerves endings are mostly dormant in many people. It is not just coincidence that more than 80% of people suffer significant back pain in their lives.When your feet are weak, you are practically guaranteeing you will experience significant back pain at some point.
Happy trying !