How are your feet related to back pain you ask? Well, when it comes to the hardest working body part of all, your feet are number one.
Your feet keep you moving, and if you take proper care of them, you can easily help prevent back, knee, and hip pain. Whether you’re too active, or not active enough, the muscles in your feet can become over-worked and tense, or weak and shortened.
The type of shoes you wear also affect how much pain you might feel in your back, knee and hip. I remember when I used to wear flip-flops all summer long and I would have chronic knee and hip pain. Once I started walking in my Vibrams (a type of minimalist shoe, another good company is Xero shoes), my symptoms almost disappeared. I also stretched my feet a lot in yoga poses, so I attribute that to solving a lot of my pain-related issues.
Use these foot strengthening exercises to stretch your feet every morning (or before any type of exercise). They will greatly reduce any pain you might be feeling elsewhere in your body.
If you feel any pain, just go gently with the stretches. Doing them regularly, will, over time, reduce the amount of pain you feel in your feet, and therefore your back, knees and hips. These foot strengthening exercises will also restore your overall mobility and balance.
This exercise routine should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete. Perform them every other day for best results.
1. Heel Raises
This exercise works your calf muscles and can help realign tendons and readjust your ankle joints. It can also help strengthen your toes and in return, give you better balance.
1. Place a chair in front of you and lift your left leg off the ground.
2. Bend your right knee a little and then slowly raise and lower the right heel, making sure the foot is properly aligned with your leg.
3. Do 10-20 reps and switch legs. Repeat 2-3 times.
2. Toe Walking
Toe walking strengthens the leg and foot muscles and is therefore good for flat feet and fallen arches. It will help strengthen the ligaments and muscles surrounding the balls of your feet.
1. Stand on your tiptoes with your feet straight and walk forward for 20 seconds.
2. Then, point your toes outward and walk on them for another 20 seconds.
3. Next, point your toes inward and repeat another 20 seconds.
4. Rest for 10-15 seconds, and repeat 4-5 times.
3. Ankle Circles
Ankle circles loosen the muscles and tendons in the leg and joint around the foot. If your ankles are stiff, it is likely that you will have stress in the foot and legs, leading to knee, back and neck pain.
1. Rest in a chair in a comfortable position.
2. Lift your right foot off the floor and move your ankle in a circular motion.
3. Your toes should be pointed as they reach a 12 o’clock position, and flexed outward as they reach a 6 o’clock position.
4. Do 5-10 circles in a clockwise motion and change direction.
5. Repeat for another 5-10 circles, and then do the same with your left foot.
6. Do 5 sets with each foot.
4. Toe Curls
This is another great foot strengthening exercise. It will help balance your foot action, support the arches of your feet, and increase overall foot strength. They are particularly great for runners.
1. Place a towel on the floor in front of a chair.
2. Sit down on the chair and place both feet on the towel.
3. Use all your toes of the left foot to scrunch up the towel towards you.
4. After 5-10 reps, try scrunching the towel back out again.
5. Repeat 5 sets for each direction, and wiggle toes in between each set.
6. Repeat with the right foot.
5. Resisted Flexion
This exercise is great for reaching the small muscles of the foot. It can also help strengthen the calf muscles and reduce hip pain.
1. Sit in a chair, or on the floor and wrap a resistance band around your foot, holding strongly with your hand.
2. Keeping your arm where it is, press the ball of your foot into the band as far as you can, and resist the tension of the band back.
3. Hold each position for about 2 seconds, and perform 10 repetitions.
4. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. Aim for 3 sets on each foot.