Foot Strengthening Exercises to Support Your Natural Arch

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Pixmac000084340798Foot pain can really slow you down.  Not only is it uncomfortable, but it effects other muscles and joints as well.  While wearing the appropriate shoes will support your feet to an extent, it is still imperative that we take care of our feet by strengthening them.

Many of the exercises we use to strengthen our feet can be performed at your desk or while sitting in front of the TV.  So, the next time you find yourself in either of these locations, try one of the following foot strengthening exercises.  Your feet will thank you!

Good Exercises to Strengthen Your Feet

Yes, feet need to get exercise too! When the Posterior Tibialis (the muscle that supports the natural arch of the foot) becomes weak, due to injury or overuse, it can allow the arch to perpetually fall putting extra stress on the Plantar Fascia (dense connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that runs from the heal to the ball of the foot).

There are a number exercises that target this area and as with any exercise program, these movements should begin with a functional warm-up (biking, walking, or a light jog) and stretching. Consult your Physical Therapist or Certified Athletic Trainer for the program that is specific to the needs of your body.

Below is a program to address support of the plantar arch of the foot.

These exercises should be performed to fatigue, but, should never produce sharp pain at the ankle joint or on the bottom of the foot. Since these muscles are repetitive in nature (endurance bias) we need to train them as such, so, higher repetitions and fewer sets would be preferred.

Exercise:

Marble pickup: Place a grouping of marbles on the floor and pick them up one-by-one and place them in a cup.

Towel Crunch: Place a towel flat on a smooth surface (such as a tile floor). Place your foot flat on the towel. While keeping your heel on the towel, pull the opposite end of the towel towards you by flexing your toes.

Elastic Band: Place an elastic band (such as Theraband) around the ball of the foot and secure it to something towards the outside of your foot (pinky toe side). Against this resistance, turn your foot inward with a slight upward turn of the arch towards the opposite leg. Perform the same exercise in the opposite direction.

Posterior Tib Arch Lift: Sit in a chair and place your foot flat on the ground. While keeping your heel and the ball of your foot in contact with the ground, lift the arch of your foot (without rotating your knee), hold for 3-5 seconds, then relax. This is a subtle movement and sometimes difficult to know if you are performing it correctly. When you relax a noticeable drop in the arch should occur.

Heel Raise: While standing and toes pointed straight forward, perform a heel raise. To target the Posterior Tib, slightly arch your feet inward (supination) during the maneuver.

In addition to these activities, you should also be training the muscles around your knees and hips to effect supportive function of the entire lower extremities. By supporting the entire lower extremity chain you should realize long lasting results and less pain.

Jeff French, Director of Physical Therapy, Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management

How often do you incorporate foot strengthening exercises into your running routine?

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