Foot Exercises and Stretches are very important in dealing with foot pain. Simple stretching and exercises can help reduce foot pain. Stretching the calf muscles reduces areas of concentrated forces to your feet. Studies have shown that you can reduce pressure (pounds per square inch) not only at heel strike but also to the balls of the feet by as much as 50% by simply stretching your calf muscles. Stretching also increases the circulation to your feet. The foot impressions below are of a patient who was in the store for the first time.
We did a pedigraph (pressure sensitive mat) of his feet and you can clearly see the high pressure areas, circled in red on the right. He did the stretches below for 10 minutes and we did another pedigraph and you can see how much pressure was relieved from his heel strike and the ball of the foot (foot impression below).
Stretching is especially beneficial for those with pain in the ball of the foot and heel pain. It is also very important for those who have diabetes because it reduces pressure on the ball of the foot and big toe, the most common places that ulcers occur. Also, stretching and exercising increases blood flow to the feet which can help relieve symptoms caused from neuropathy. When your feet hurt, stretch twice a day and you will be amazed how much better your feet will feel!
Calf (Gastrocnemius Muscle Stretch)
Lean against a wall for support and to assist with stretching. Bend one knee and bring is toward the wall, while keeping the back leg straight. During stretching, make sure both heels remain in contact with the ground. Keep the toes of the stretched (back foot pointed toward the wall and maintain your body in a straight line (buttocks do not move or sag in toward the wall).
DO NOT BOUNCE
Hold position 10 seconds, do 7 to 10 repetitions
Soleus and Posterior Tibialis Muscle stretching exercise
Lean against a wall for support and to assist with stretching. Position yourself as above: however, this time gradually bend both knees toward the wall until you feel a mild pull in the back of your legs.
DO NOT BOUNCE and remember to keep your heels in contact with the ground and keep the toes pointing forward. Hold position for 10 seconds and repeat 7 to 10 times
Prolonged Calf (Gastrocnemius) Stretching exercise
Place you foot as shown and stand on an incline board. Hold onto a rail or wall for support. Maintain both legs with your knees straight and keep you heels on the bottom. You can keep your heels on the ground. The more you put the balls of your feet up on the board, the more you will feel the calves stretch. You can substitute the incline board by standing with the ball of your foot on a stair and lower your heels gradually until you feel a pull in the back of your legs. Begin by holding this position for 1 minute and gradually increase to 5 minutes. Do not bounce and keep the body in a straight line. Soleus and Posterior Tibialialis Muscle stretching exercise
Position yourself as in above stretch: however , this time both
knees should be slightly bent.
Begin by holding for 1 minute and gradually increase to 5 minutes.
DO NOT BOUNCE and keep your body in a straight line.
All the stretching exercises should be done in manner that you feel a MILD pulling in your calf muscles but NO pain. Consult with your physician to see if stretching may have any adverse effects.
There are 19 intrinsic muscles in the feet, 18 of these muscles connect to your toes. We spend most of our life in shoes where our toes cannot move freely and those muscles become very weak, thus our whole foot structure is weak. The more you exercise your toes the stronger your entire feet become.
Toe raise, toe point, toe curl exercise:
Hold each position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. We recommend these for people with hammer toes or toe cramp.
Toe Squeeze exercise:
Place small corks between your toes and squeeze for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This is a good exercise if you have hammer toes or toe cramps.
Place a thick rubber band around both big toes and pull them away from each other, toward the smaller toes. Hold for 5 seconds,repeat 10 times.
The golf ball roll exercise:
Roll a golf ball under the ball of your foot for 2 minutes. This is a great massage for the bottom of the foot and good for people with plantar fasciitis (heel pain syndrome), cramps or arch strain.
Toe Pulls exercise:
Put a thick rubber band around all of your toes and spread them. Hold 5 seconds and repeat 10
Towel curls exercise:
Place a small towel on the floor and curl it toward you, using only your toes. You can increase the resistance by putting a weight on the end of the towel. Relax, then repeat this exercise 5 times. Try this if you have hammer toes, toe cramps, pain in the ball of your foot, or for overall strengthening.
Marble pickup exercise:
Place 20 marbles on the floor. Pick up one at a time with your toes and put each marble in a bowl. This is recommended for people who have pain in the ball of the foot, hammer toes, or toe cramps.
Sand walking exercise:
Any chance you get, take off your shoes and walk in the sand at the beach. This not only massages your feet, but strengthens your toes for general foot conditioning.