by Dr. Wes Gregg

There is plenty of hype and attention surrounding core stability, but many forget about the feet, which provide explosive power to your whole body.  Chances are you stay active to condition your heart, stretch to remain flexible, and lift to remain strong; but odds are you’re ignoring your feet and ankles.  Recently, research has begun to investigate the ‘foot core’ and its impact on injuries.

Modern footwear confines our feet and can cause them to become weak and inflexible. (Monica highlighted in a previous blog post the importance of first metatarsalpahlanageal extension in the foot) Something has to pick up the slack to compensate for a loss in range of motion or strength and no matter how strong your core is, and it’s tough to excel without a strong foundation.  Our feet were designed to work unsupported and commonly orthotics are given to add permanent support to the foot, opposed to a strengthening routine, as the current standard of care for injuries.

Running athletes are particularly prone to foot injuries (stress fractures, plantar fasciitis,
ankle tendonitis, ect.) partly due to the repetitiveness of the activity, impact loads, and weakness around the foot and ankle.  Researchers have found no correlation between weekly mileage and the incidence of stress fractures, meaning other than bony structure, we can modify our strength and flexibility.  Muscle strength plays an important role in injury prevention for a variety of injuries and in a study researching stress fracture development, Burne, et al., determined that a 10-mm reduction in calf circumference results in a fourfold increase in the incidence of tibial stress fractures.

The addition of a few simple foot strengthening exercises may lessen the potential for injury (or reinjury).  Here are a few moves for more flexible, fitter feet:

Calf Foam Rolling

LaCrosse Ball Foot

Big Toe Taps

1) Stand barefoot with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your big toes as you simultaneously press down with the other four toes of each foot.

2) Now reverse the motion, pressing down with your big toes as you raise your remaining toes. Start with a few repetitions and work up to 30 seconds or more.

Short Foot Exercise

1)  Start sitting in a chair with both feet on the floor

2)  Raise the arch of your foot by sliding your big toe toward your heel without curling your toes or lifting your heel

3)  Hold for 5-10 seconds then relax and repeat for recommended number of sets and repetitions

4)  Once comfortable, you can perform the short foot exercise while standing and eventually to a single-leg position

This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please see a physician or health professional immediately if you suspect you may be ill or injured. The workouts, movements, and progressions provided on this website are for educational and entertainment purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, or course of action. Exercise is not without its risks, and this or any other exercise program may result in injury.

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