Feet exercises are an important part of healthy aging. There are three goals to keep in mind when designing a workout for foot care.
1. Increase circulation
Our feet suffer more circulation problems than any other part of our body. As we age it becomes more important than ever to keep the circulation flowing through our feet.
2. Strengthen the muscles of the feet, ankles and toes
We have 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in our feet and we rely on them to keep us mobile and functioning. Just like the other muscles in the body, they need strengthening.
3. Improve balance
The feet are mainly responsible for your sense of balance. By stimulating the sensory receptors on the bottom of our feet we improve balance and decrease fall risk.
With these three important goals in mind, take off your shoes and socks and let’s start with a quick workout for the feet!
Foot and Toe Exercise with Towel
1. Place a towel on the floor in front of you running parallel to your body. A smooth surface is better for this exercise than carpeting.
2. Use your toes to squeeze and scrunch up the towel until you reach the end of the towel.
3. Using your toes push the towel out of the “scrunched up” position away from your body.
This exercise will not only strengthen the feet, increase circulation, flexibility and dexterity, but it will also decrease foot cramping. Working barefooted gives your feet a chance to breathe, stretch, and become sensitive to the proprioceptors in the feet. Since most of the muscles for the feet and toes are actually in the calf it is important to stretch the calf and hamstring muscles.
Calf and Hamstring Stretch with Towel
1. Calf Stretch: Fold towel lengthwise. Holding each end of towel, place center of towel around toes and ball of foot. Pull up on towel until you feel a gentle stretch in calf muscle (back of lower leg).
2. Hamstring Stretch: Repeat above instructions for calf stretch. However, place towel around arch of foot and pull up on towel. Allow foot to leave floor. Raise foot only as high as needed to get a gentle stretch in hamstring group of muscles (muscles on back of upper thigh). NO PAIN.
Try these few exercises each time you watch your favorite television program. For all that your foot must do, it deserves some special attention. A little foot care goes a long way!