Our hectic work environment makes us lead an unhealthy lifestyle – we work for long hours, barely get any exercise, and eat food that only harms us in the long run. This fast-paced lifestyle takes a toll on us mentally and physically, forcing our bodies to bear the impact. With about 75% Americans being affected by foot pain, it’s high time we do something to correct it. And here are some ways to do it.
Why It’s Important To Keep Your Feet Healthy
Foot pain is often the result of bad posture and improper balance.1 Our feet take the weight of our whole body, absorb shocks, and help maintain the balance of the body. Foot pain, if left untreated, can also cause intense pain in the lower back, knee and hip.2 3
Here are some of the reasons why your feet might be suffering.
- Inflammation in the tendons or muscles.
- Poor blood circulation
- Weak muscles
- Ankle injury
- Bad posture
- Flat feet
To keep your feet healthy, it’s important to perform exercises that are aimed at strengthening your toes and ankles.
1. Toe Presses
Toe presses strengthen your calf muscles and ensure that your feet receive good blood circulation.
- Standing up, slightly bend your knee
- Tightly grip the floor with your toes
- Hold the position for 3 seconds, before standing up again.
- Repeat the exercise for 2 more minutes.
- Perform the exercise daily – in the morning and night.
2. Toe Walking
This exercise strengthens the ligaments of your legs and knees, thereby improving your posture.
- Stand on your toes.
- Tip-toe you way across the room
- Continue walking on your toes for 20 seconds.
- Rest your feet for a minute before resuming the exercise
- Repeat the exercise five times.
3. Toe Pickups
Toe pickup improves your posture and balance by increasing your calf muscle strength and lower body flexibility.
- Sit comfortably on a chair
- Place a pencil on the floor
- Now pick up the pencil using only your toes.
- Repeat the exercise five more times.
1. Resistance Bands
Toe exercises using a resistance band can help increase foot and ankle strength.
Sit down on the floor with your legs stretched out
Wrap a resistance band around the leg of a chair.
Keep your foot on one side of the band
Slowly stretch your foot backward to create tension
Hold the position for about 5 seconds
Repeat the exercise 10 times.
2. Ankle Circles
Ankle circles increase the strength of your lower back and help relax your calf muscles.
- Lie down on your back.
- Raise your legs in the air
- Slowly rotate your ankle for a minute.
- Now repeat the same with the other ankle.
- Perform the exercise twice a day.
3. Balance Training
Calf raises improve the body balance, posture, and ankle strength.
- Raise your leg in the air, while standing up
- Move the ankle of the raised leg in an up-and-down motion.
- Do this for 15 seconds.
- Rest for a minute and proceed to do the same with the other leg.
How To Avoid Foot Pain
There are a few things we do on a daily basis that increases foot pain. To reduce the risk, follow these tips.
- Avoid wearing high-heels for long periods of time.
- Exercise regularly and keep your weight in check, as obesity could cause foot pain.4
- Say no to smoking and drinking5
- Wear shoes that fit you perfectly and are not too tight, especially while working out.
- Remember to warm up before performing high-impact exercises.
To temporarily reduce foot pain, apply an ice pack and take ample rest. Foot pain is common, and performing toe and ankle exercises can effectively reduce it. Certain yoga poses like the virasana (hero poses) and adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog pose) can also alleviate foot pain. Also, remember to eat a balanced diet and reduce your salt intake. However, if you experience debilitating pain, it’s best to consult a doctor and opt for physiotherapy.
|↑1||Mientjes, M. I. V., and J. S. Frank. “Balance in chronic low back pain patients compared to healthy people under various conditions in upright standing.” Clinical Biomechanics 14, no. 10 (1999): 710-716.|
|↑2||Foot Pain. University Of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑3||Spink, Martin J., Mohammad R. Fotoohabadi, Elin Wee, Keith D. Hill, Stephen R. Lord, and Hylton B. Menz. “Foot and ankle strength, range of motion, posture, and deformity are associated with balance and functional ability in older adults.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 92, no. 1 (2011): 68-75.|
|↑4||Butterworth, Paul A., Hylton B. Menz, Donna M. Urquhart, Flavia M. Cicuttini, Julie A. Pasco, Sharon L. Brennan, Anita E. Wluka et al. “The association between obesity and foot pain: metabolic, biomechanical or both?.” Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 8, no. 2 (2015): O5.|
|↑5||Ekholm, Ola, Morten Grønbæk, Vera Peuckmann, and Per Sjøgren. “Alcohol and smoking behavior in chronic pain patients: The role of opioids.” European Journal of Pain 13, no. 6 (2009): 606-612.|