Each foot, in each stride, takes around 1.5 times your body weight, and if you want to run, we’re talking more like 4-5 times! So here are some simple exercises we try and encourage triathletes to do to help strengthen their feet and ankles:
Massage and touch your feet
Every time you have had a shower or bath, spend 30 seconds to one minute just massaging the bottom of the foot, touching and spreading the toes and working through the tops. This will help stimulate all the nerves and wake up the muscles in your foot, and also allow you time to check on your foot health – do you have any corns or calluses, verrucas or ingrowing toenails.
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People often do this very badly. You will often see people using a tea towel or theraband on the floor and you have to slowly drag it towards you and scrunch it up. However, often this encourages the external muscles of your feet to work rather than the intrinsic lumbricals. If you have been given this and you notice that as you do it your toes are scrunching and curling, then these are not the right muscles!
Put your feet on the floor and spread your toes. You are then aiming to press the toes down and lift the joint at the ball of your foot (metatarsal heads). The arch of your foot should lift but the foot stay square to the floor and toes long.
However, we all have our individual biases so if you notice that your toes are starting to move closer together, or the knuckles of your toes are bunching up then please get in touch with a physio who has a specialist interest in feet to get a full assessment and exercises specifically for you.
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The bars give you tactile feedback so you can feel whether you’re rolling in or out, and the mirrors allow you visual feedback so you can see if you are simply dropping into the end of your range when you are pointing your feet.