If you're struggling with feet pain, simply massaging your feet isn't enough. Prevention is better than cure; you have to increase strength and mobility in that area to make sure your upper body is correctly supported.
Lucky for you, we've prepared a list of feet and ankle exercises that will help you prevent injuries and improve your training programme, making it safe and productive.
Have you ever wondered how ballerinas manage to dance on pointe without hurting their feet? It’s not their genetics; the secret lies in strengthening exercises. These come with a range of benefits that can keep your feet healthy, whether you’re a professional athlete or an amateur.
If you’re wondering how to relieve foot pain and increase flexibility in your feet, you should start by training the flexor muscles, which stretch from your ankles all the way to your toes.
The toe curls exercise is one of the most effective ways to gradually build strength in that area.
Place a towel on the floor and curl your toes to pull it towards you. Repeat the exercise a few times and then switch feet – you can even do it while you’re watching TV or eating dinner. When you’ve had a bit of practice, try putting something heavy at the end of the towel to make it more challenging.
Stand On Your Tiptoes
This is another exercise that you might have spotted in the ballet world – it's not just one of the best ankle strengthening exercises, but it targets muscle groups in your calves and thighs as well. The good news is, you can easily perform this at home.
Stand on a soft and stable surface, preferably a high-quality yoga mat. A good product example is MuscleSquad's exercise mat, which is made of a durable NBR foam and works great for stretching and cardio exercises.
Raise to the balls of your feet and hold the position for two seconds, then come down and repeat it a few times. Make sure you warm up your ankles before attempting this exercise; you can draw circles with your feet or stretch Achilles' tendons.
Point And Flex Your Toes
This is another one of the foot mobility exercises that should make it onto your daily schedule. If your training doesn't require feet flexibility, it's easy to neglect this body part entirely, but you should remember that every physical activity requires good support from your feet and ankles, and weakness in these areas can lead to injury.
To begin, sit on a yoga mat with your legs outstretched in front of you and flex your feet. Hold this position for a few seconds, then point your toes and flex them again. Repeat this combination at least five times.
To add to the level of difficulty, you can add a resistance band. Wrap it around the top of your toes and hold onto the band at each end. You can either make this exercise a part of your workout and use it as a warmup or do it after you've done training, even before going to bed. You'll find that it's pretty relaxing and effectively relieves tension in your muscles.
Relieve Pain With A Tennis Ball
Sometimes the pain might be tied to the kind of lifestyle you lead. If you're frequently on your feet and exercise on top of that, your muscles might not be able to keep up, and you'll start experiencing foot pain. Luckily, you can easily release muscle tension by massaging your feet with a tennis ball. This is also great for relieving heel pain as it results from the inflammation of muscles located at the bottom of your feet.
To perform the exercise, sit on a chair and place the tennis ball under your feet, then target the tender areas by adding pressure to the ball with your foot where you need it. You can do it for as long as it feels necessary but try to do it for at least a minute every day. If you do this regularly, you'll not only say goodbye to the pain but also increase your range of motion.
If you're wondering how to strengthen ankles, a resistance band is your best friend. It can be used to aid a full-body workout and help you engage the desired muscles even more - even the simplest exercise can be improved a lot.
Simply wrap the resistance band around your ankles and stand with your legs slightly apart. Next, lift one leg at a time and repeat the movement a few times. And remember, having weak ankles can not only inhibit your progress at the gym by giving you frequent injuries but also affect your balance, so don't skip it during your next training session.