A Solid Foundation
Four primary muscle groups in the lower body – glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves – account for virtually every movement in your legs. At the base of them all is the often-overlooked foot, with 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Stretch and Strengthen
Correct foot stretching and strengthening can reduce pain, inflammation, and ligament damage both in your feet and throughout your entire lower body.
By increasing circulation in your feet, you can reduce your risk of complications from diabetes, and stave off blood clots and vein problems. Plus, when your feet feel good, you are more likely to remain active.
Start off on the right foot! If you’re involved in sports, get in the habit of strengthening and stretching your feet before and after every game and practice session. That just might be the leg up you need to succeed!
Circulation and Strengthening Exercises
Perform these exercises while barefoot:
- Lie on a bench or bed with your knees slightly bent and with both arms at your sides.
- Quickly pump your ankles back and forth at the same time, moving your feet away from your body before pulling them in toward your body.
- Repeat 20 times.
- Then, do the same exercise, but alternate between ankles 20 times.
- Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent and arms at your sides. Shift your weight onto your toes. Keep your balance by extending your arms to your sides or hold onto a wall.
- Take 10 steps in a straight line.
- Turn around and walk back to your original position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, arms at your sides.
- Extend your right leg out to be even with your hip.
- Point toes up.
- Rotate your foot in a clockwise circle 10 times.
- Repeat in a counterclockwise direction 10 times.
- Repeat the pattern with your left leg.
- Stand straight with your hands on the back of a chair or wall for balance.
- Rise onto your toes, holding this position for a count of 10 seconds before slowly lowering yourself.
- Repeat 20 times.
- As your fitness improves, increase the amount of time you remain on your toes.
Golf Ball Massage
- Sit or stand with a golf ball in front of your feet, on a mat or carpet.
- Roll the ball under the arch of your foot for two minutes.
- Repeat with other foot.
This article originally appeared on USAF FitFamily©, a publication of the U.S. Air Force. Republished with permission.