Stretches for Your Feet
Whether you are actively on your feet throughout the day, or you have a job where you sit for long periods of time, your feet need to be exercised to ensure against injury or atrophy. There are a few simple stretching exercises that you can undertake every day so that your feet stay nimble and in good health. The great thing about these stretches is that you don’t have to go to the gym, or invest in different equipment, to do them. You can easily do these stretches from the comfort of your couch or your office chair with items available in your home.
Toe raise, point, and curl
This is a classic exercise, recommended by most podiatrists, and can easily be executed while sitting in a chair. The exercise requires you to sit up straight in your chair with your feet planted firmly on a flat surface. Raise your heels up slowly while keeping your toes on the ground, and hold the position for five seconds, then lower your heels back down. The exercise has a second stage where you raise the heels up again but this time, only your big and second toe must remain on the ground. Hold again for five seconds before lowering. In the final stage, when you raise your heels, you have to curl your toes inward. This position should also be held for 5 seconds. Continue these steps 10-15 times to increase foot flexibility.
Big Toe Stretch
For those suffering from pain in the toes, this exercise may help in pain relief. While sitting upright in a chair with your feet planted firmly on an even surface, bring one foot to rest on the other thigh. Use your fingers to stretch only the big toe, up, down, and to the sides, for five seconds, before moving on to the next foot. This exercise should also be repeated 10-15 times for maximum pain relief. Discontinue if pain increases.
Place your feet on the ground, splay your toes apart and hold the position for five seconds. Do not splay the toes to the point of straining - only until comfortable. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times to help build up the strength of the toes.
This standing exercise may help those suffering from plantar fasciitis. Stand on the tips of your toes till your heels are off the ground and then lower your heels down for a count of 15 seconds, without touching the floor, before lifting them up. This may be difficult to accomplish with both feet at the same time, in which case, focus on one foot at a time, and repeat the exercise for 10-15 counts per foot. Remember not to strain the foot and, if you feel pain, you should stop and continue the exercise later.
The roll is another exercise usually recommended for anyone with plantar fasciitis. This involves placing an object under the foot—either a golf ball, a frozen can, or a filled bottle—and moving the foot repeatedly over the object. The object should remain between the heel and the arch, not any further. To achieve the best results, this exercise should be done the moment one wakes up in the morning.
The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calves and can become strained due to overexertion, leading to strong spasms of pain. To stretch the Achilles' muscle, stand facing a wall and place your palms against the wall firmly. Your arms should be straight out in front of you, not bent. Pull one foot back while keeping that knee straight—this is the foot that you will be balancing against. The other leg will remain close to the wall. Bend the knee and stretch your hips towards the wall until you feel the pull in your calf and leg. Do not overstrain. Do the same for the other leg and repeat the exercise ten times.
You will need a towel for this exercise. Sit on the floor and place the towel on around your toes, pulling it towards you and hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
If you have any questions about the kinds of stretches you can do for your feet, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the pediatric expert, Sheldon Nadal, D.P.M. at Bayview Medical Centre.