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Fitness for Your Feet

Tips to get your feet in shape

Exer­cise is vital to main­tain­ing our over­all health and with a vari­ety of sports and activ­i­ties avail­able year round, there’s a work­out reg­i­men that fits every­one’s needs. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most peo­ple ignore one of the most crit­i­cal ele­ments for exer­cise suc­cess — our feet.

Feet are our foun­da­tion — they pro­vide us with bal­ance, dis­trib­ute weight and assist with ambu­la­tion of our bod­ies for­ward, back­ward and lat­er­al­ly. With so much rest­ing on our feet — lit­er­al­ly — it’s cru­cial to take good care of them for whole body health. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant when we engage in ath­let­ic activ­i­ties when we put more stress and strain on our bod­ies for longer peri­ods of time.

Fol­low­ing are some tips to get your feet in shape no mat­ter what lev­el of activ­i­ty you’re engag­ing in — from run­ning a marathon to play­ing a game of bas­ket­ball with the kids:

  • Start slow — if you’ve been inac­tive for a while, or if you’re start­ing a dif­fer­ent exer­cise pro­gram, take time to build up your sta­mi­na to avoid foot strain, frac­tures and sprains. You may want to start con­di­tion­ing your feet by doing some strength­en­ing exer­cis­es, including:
    • Toe grip to strength­en the foot mus­cles for bal­ance: Sit straight in a chair with feet flat on floor. Place an emp­ty bowl and sev­er­al mar­bles on the floor and use your toes to grip and lift the mar­ble off the floor and into bowl. Repeat 10 times with each foot.
    • Toe exten­sion to strength­en and sup­port the mus­cles: Wrap a hair band or rub­ber band around all five toes. Expand your toes and hold for 10 sec­onds; release. Repeat ten times on each foot.
    • Calf raise to strength­en the feet and the calves and improve bal­ance: Stand near a counter or a door­way and hold on light­ly for bal­ance being mind­ful not to trans­fer body weight to wall or counter. Bal­ance on one foot and rise up onto your toes. Hold for 10 sec­onds, and then low­er. Repeat 10 times on each foot.
    • Calf stretch pre­vents Achilles ten­dons and the plan­tar fas­ci­ae from get­ting tight: Sit with one leg stretched out in front of you and wrap a belt or scarf around the ball of the foot. Pull the tow­el back gen­tly using your arm mus­cles until you feel a stretch in the arch of the foot and the calf. Hold for 10 sec­onds and release. Repeat ten times on each leg.

  • Shoes — not all ath­let­ic shoes are cre­at­ed equal. Be sure to match the shoe to your activ­i­ty to ensure the best ath­let­ic form and sup­port. For exam­ple, run­ning shoes are light, flex­i­ble and sup­port sim­ple for­ward strides. Cross-train­ers are wider to offer more sta­bil­i­ty and bal­ance with lat­er­al move­ment — need­ed for activ­i­ties like strength train­ing or bas­ket­ball. High top sneak­ers can offer addi­tion­al ankle sup­port. Keep an eye on the wear and tear of your shoes too — they have a lim­it­ed lifes­pan and should be replaced once they start to lose their sup­port, cush­ion­ing and form. Wear­ing shoes that are worn out can con­tribute to poor foot health and injury.

  • Socks — wear padded, poly­ester-blend socks. Cot­ton socks hold mois­ture and lose their cush­ion­ing, cre­at­ing a wet lay­er around your foot, which can lead to fun­gal infec­tions and blis­ters. Mate­ri­als that wick mois­ture away are best, espe­cial­ly those that are low fric­tion. Lin­er socks can also be worn to reduce friction.

  • Pos­ture — pay close atten­tion to your body to be sure you’re using the best pos­ture for the activ­i­ty you’re engaged in. Using incor­rect pos­ture can lead to desta­bi­liza­tion of your body putting you at risk of foot and over­all body injury. A rigid shoe insert improves posi­tion­ing of joints in the foot and over­all posture.

  • Hygiene — be sure to wash your feet using a mild soap, get­ting between the toes and dry­ing thor­ough­ly, espe­cial­ly after a work­out. Keep­ing your toe­nails trimmed, cut straight across, can reduce the like­li­hood of ingrown toe­nails. Wear show­er shoes or slides in the lock­er room or at the pool to avoid fun­gal infec­tions like ath­lete’s foot. Reg­u­lar­ly spray shoes with dis­in­fec­tant to reduce bac­te­r­i­al load and odors.

Tak­ing these steps can help get your feet in shape and let you put your best foot for­ward for exer­cise and health. If you have ques­tions or are expe­ri­enc­ing foot pain or issues, please call or sched­ule an appoint­ment online with one of our podi­a­trists today.

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