If you were to name the first 10 exercises that come to mind, would any foot exercises be on your list?
The foot and ankle play an important part in our proprioception (how we perceive where our body is and its movements) and balance. A lot of things can contribute to having decreased foot strength, or even foot deformities, such as prolonged wearing of heels or shoes with too narrow of a toe box. Even shoes with "too much" support can decrease the demand for your foot muscles to perform. When you are barefoot and walk you can see your feet making many tiny adjustments to keep up with your movement and balance. If your feet cannot splay (spreading your toes apart), they won't have as much strength to make these adjustments. This is why it's important to spend some time barefoot every day and to add foot strengthening to your daily routine!
There are a lot of muscles connected to and in our feet, and like any other muscle they can be strengthened and developed with the right exercises. Here are a few great examples of what is known as Toe Yoga (or Toe-ga) to begin strengthening our connection to our feet.
1.) Lifting your big toe while keeping your other toes flat on the ground:
2.) Keep your big toe down and lift just your smaller toes:
3.) Foot Shortening/Foot Push Ups/Foot Domes - without curling your toes pull the arch of your foot up:
These movements can take time to master but don't give up! Start with these three Toe-Ga poses and let's start paying some attention to our feet - they carry you around all day!