"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Even just a few small exercises a day can lead to big gains for your foot health!
The goal is to gently work the muscles on the bottom of your feet and toes:
Stand with feet together.
Step back with your left leg so your heel is raised and your toes press against the ground.
You should feel the muscles on the bottom of your feet pull gently.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Repeat with your right foot.
Here’s a quick exercise you can do from the comfort of your couch. It won’t replace getting up and moving, but it will help you work on your foot and ankle mobility while you work (or watch Netflix).
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
Lift your right leg so your foot is off the floor and use your big toe to make circles in the air, moving in a clockwise direction, for 15 to 20 rotations.
Reverse direction and make another 15 to 20 circles, this time in a counterclockwise direction.
Repeat with your left foot.
For a little extra flair, “draw” the letters of the alphabet with your big toe instead of making circles.
Something you can do on your own to work on your foot strength is a form of foot pushups, or arch exercises.
Start by planting your foot, spreading your toes, and trying to grip the floor while pulling the front of your foot in towards the heel.
You should feel it in your arches. Try to keep your weight balanced throughout the “tripod” (shown in second slide) and keep the ball of your foot on the ground.
Side note: you might experience some cramping.
Foot Push-Up Test
Wanna check in on your arches? Do this quick test from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons:
In bare feet, stand facing a kitchen counter/table/sturdy chair/something you can lean on.
Place your palms on the counter with slight pressure.
Stand with your back straight, and lift one foot off the floor.
Slowly lift the heel of the other foot, placing all of your weight onto the ball of your foot.
Slowly lower your heel back to the floor.
Do 10 foot push-ups.
Repeat steps 1–6 with the other foot.
What are the results you should watch out for?
A) You can only do one push-up.
If you can’t raise up onto the ball of your foot without leaning heavily on your hands, leaning over the counter or experiencing pain, you may have a mechanical problem with your arch. On the more extreme end, the arch tendon could stretch or rupture, leading to lowering of the arch. Regardless, if you can’t do more than one without any real pain, you should contact a podiatrist ASAP.
B) You can do all 10 but with some difficulty.
If you can rise onto the ball of your foot but have a tough time completing all 10 reps, you might be experiencing some arch fatigue. Exercises, such as these foot push-ups can help stretch and strengthen the muscles in your leg to help with this problem.
C) You have pain in your arch during the exercise.
If you can rise up onto the ball of your foot but have pain in your arch, your arch might be inflamed and may have been overworked. We recommend you consult a foot and ankle surgeon for weak and overworked arches in order to manage the problem and find the best course of action to help you keep things healthy and pain-free.