Before getting straight to the point, answer a few questions for yourself:
- do you have pain in your lower back or neck?
- Do your knees ache?
- Is the discomfort in your hip joints bothering you?
- Do you get headaches?
- If you answered yes to at least one question, here’s my strong advice: take a good look at one small but important part of your body’s musculoskeletal system: your feet.
By working on the feet, we are helping the whole body.
We tend to neglect this part of our body for years. Socially it is not customary to train feet. Usually our reasoning is: well, it’s just a foot. What does it have to do with the rest of the body? Yes, we squeeze it into tight (but fashionable and beautiful!) shoes, abusing the heels, narrow ballet flats, flip-flops, etc. Shoes are a prison for our feet, and the “wrong” shoes are shackles.
Since climatic conditions do not allow us to “free” our feet from shoes – I encourage you to pay attention to this small part of the body with some basic exercises. Moreover, I would like to point out that by working with the foot, toes, surrounding tissues and joints, we not only improve the condition of our feet, but also help the whole body as a whole.
Why do you think our knees hurt, for example? Because they are a hostage between the hip joints and the feet. And why does the lower back hurt? For the same reason – mobility is impaired somewhere. Of course, it’s not just the feet that are to blame, but more often than not it’s the musculoskeletal system that needs to be worked on to begin with.
Foot Exercise Pack
Remember to make footwork a daily routine just like brushing your teeth and other hygiene routines.
1. Exercise – MFR of the feet
Important points: Starting position is sitting in any comfortable position.
Please note that any foot work should be preceded by a myofascial release, although in fact MFR should be performed before any workout. I hope you all already have an idea of what it is and what it is for (Zozhnik has published a lecture about MFR and a set of exercises by Victoria Borovskaya).
So, perform MFR of the entire foot surface, i.e. its dorsal and plantar parts. Slap your hands together, rubbing the whole surface of the foot. Pay special attention to the plantar fascia – rub it with your hands and don’t forget the heel and the ramus and metatarsophalangeal joints.
Through MFR, we awaken many receptors in the foot area and let our brain know that our body has a wonderful part – the foot, which we are now going to work on.
2. Exercise – Lock
How much to do: 10 flexion-extension and 10 rotations in each direction.
Important moments: Starting position is sitting in any comfortable chair, on a chair, on the floor, wherever you are comfortable.
To perform the exercise, slide the fingers of one hand between the toes of the opposite foot.
In case of pain or discomfort, sit for a while, breathe quietly and let your body get used to the new sensation.
In fact, pain and discomfort at the beginning is quite natural. After all, most of you have never paid enough attention to such an important body part as the foot. This is why the toes are stuck together, and it shouldn’t be this way. Pay attention to babies’ feet, how mobile and wide apart their toes are. This is the normal state of the foot, which we, therefore, should strive for.
Then we perform the mobilisation techniques, bending and extending the toes backwards and forwards. Hold your foot by the middle of the foot with the other hand.
3. Exercise – Mobilising the toes
How many times: 12 times on each leg in each variation of the exercise.
Important points: Starting position is standing, with the working foot slightly in front of you, toes spread wide apart.
First lift up 12 times just the big toe, keeping the other four toes immobile and press them to the floor.
Then keep the big toe pressed to the floor and 12 times lift up the other four toes only.
Repeat the exercise for the other foot.
The range of motion should be comfortable, don’t let it cause pain.
Apart from that, try not to look at your feet during the exercise. The fact is that for good activation of the postural muscles your back should be straight. You can control your posture with the help of a mirror.
Try not to hold your breath and not to lift your shoulders upwards.
If someone has a leg cramp or tremor of any kind while doing the movement it’s nothing to worry about. This is because your nervous system is learning new movements. You have neglected the foot, this wonderful essential part of your body, for too long and now your toes need to get their mobility back. Don’t panic and keep practising the exercise.
As a reminder, you need to exercise your feet all the time in order to avoid many problems, for example with so-called big toe bones, tonus of the adductor and adductor muscles of the foot, or even with the functionality of the gluteal muscles.
4. Exercise – Lifts on big toes against the wall
How many times: 15.
Important moments: Starting position is standing with your back to the wall at a distance of about ten centimetres. The back of the head, the chest and the rump are pressed against the wall. The big toes are pressed to the floor and the other four toes on each foot are lifted up.
As you inhale, lift up on the bases of the big toes, sliding the body against the wall. As you exhale, calmly and smoothly lower yourself onto your heels.
Try not to lower your thumbs above the floor as you lift.
Breathe calmly and smoothly through the nose.
Try not to look down at your feet. Watch the axial extension of the spine, stretching upwards behind the top of the head.
In this exercise, it is important not to bring your knees inwards. For better control, you can use a Pilates ball as feedback – squeeze it between your knees and do the exercise.
5. Exercise – One-leg curl at the wall
How many times to do: 12 times on each leg.
Important moments: Starting position is standing on one leg facing the wall at arm’s length. Rest your hands on the wall. Palms are at about shoulder level.
Lift on toe and twist, taking the knee in front of you towards the support leg. The front part of supporting foot moves to the side, keeping the toes on the floor. Try to feel that the load is mainly distributed on the base of the big toe. Use your hands to push off the wall.
Then return to the starting position, gently lowering onto the heel.
Change the support leg and repeat the exercise.
Keep the knee of supporting leg soft, don’t straighten it out till the end. Try not to “bend” it inwards while lifting.
Do not forget about breathing. Do the exercise without abrupt movements, in comfortable amplitude.
6. Exercise – three-point stretch on one leg
How many we do: 6 “triangles” (or more, if you need) on each side.
Important points: Starting position is standing on one leg. Supporting knee is soft. Support foot is directed strictly forward. Body is slightly bent forward.
Stabilization exercise – take turns reaching out as far as possible with unsupported foot to the front, side and back (as if you are drawing a triangle).
Do 6 such “triangles” or more, if the condition of your supporting shin allows it. Then change your supporting leg and repeat on the other side.
There is often a feeling of fatigue in the legs, that is to say, the legs are “hammered”. This can lead to balance problems. If you find it difficult to keep your balance, it is acceptable to touch the floor with the toe of the unsupported foot.
Take your time and move at a comfortable pace, controlling your supporting knee. Make sure that it remains “soft” and does not “tilt” inwards.
In addition, it is important to keep your sides of the body at the same length, i.e. avoid tilting your pelvis sideways.
Remember, the exercises must be approached sensibly. You don’t need anguish and sacrifice to benefit from them. The most important thing is to follow the correct technique. Our aim is to teach our nervous system new movements.