Our feet are our connection to the ground, almost everything we do goes through them, so its only natural that they go through a lot of stress and wear and tear over time.
This is especially true in Strength Sports such as Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding and CrossFit, where our feet are so often getting compressed under massive amounts of weight, on top of everything else.
To combat all this stress and keep our feet healthy, there are many exercises we can utilize. Here are my top 5!
Also, feel free to check out my in-depth article on Foot Strengthening too for more great advice!
5. Toe Raises
At number 5 we have Toe Raises. Simply put, we’re going to lay our foot flat on the ground and firstly, try and raise our big toe whilst keeping all our other toes flat on the ground. If you’re someone who has neglected their feet over the years, this can be surprisingly challenging!
Now switch, keep your big toe on the ground and raise your other toes. Alternate as many times as needed and feel free to use your hands to manipulate your toes into position if you have to. If you practice enough, over time you’ll find that you need the help of your hand less and less.
This exercise also acts as a good barometer for where your foot health is currently at. If you struggle at all, it’s probably a sign that the muscles in your feet have been pretty inactive for a while. However, if you can do this easily, congratulations! You’ve likely got strong, healthy feet!
4. Toe Curls/Extensions
Toe Curls & Extensions are another exercise that we can do to improve our foot strength. They’re especially good because we can do them almost anywhere at any time! Sitting watching TV? Do some Toe Curls at the same time! At your desk job? Do some Toe Extensions!
The exercise itself is pretty straightforward too, just scrunch your toes up as tight as you can manage, hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Repeat for about 8-12 reps and that should be you good to go.
Now do the same with the Toe Extensions. This time, raise your toes as high as you can, hold for 5 seconds, and release.
Because of their simplicity and the fact that they can be done anywhere, Toe Curls and Extensions are about as versatile a Foot Strengthening Exercise as you will find.
But we can do better still!
3. Toe Spreading
3rd on our list is Toe Spreading.
As the name suggests, all we need to do here is spread our toes as wide as we can manage. If it’s too tough to do, use your hands to help spread them out.
This exercise is especially good for our Squat as it will really help to unlock our feet and use them to grip and screw into the ground for that added support.
You can also do the inverse of this exercise for added strengthening, just squeeze your toes together as tight as you can to help balance out the muscles.
Toe Spreading will do wonders for separating all the tiny muscles within your foot and ultimately bringing a bit of independence back to each one!
2. Fascia Rolling
The silver medal goes to Fascia Rolling.
We will need the help of a lacrosse ball here, or if this is too intense, a softer ball can work too.
All you need to do is place the ball on the floor and your foot on top of the ball. Now just roll it around under your foot to get some pretty powerful fascia release.
Of course, the aim here isn’t just to randomly roll the ball around. Pay attention to how it feels as you do it, you will likely come across areas that feel tighter than others, spend some more time here to open them up. Be methodical in your approach and it will pay dividends.
This is an excellent exercise for releasing all the fascia and muscles that have become stuck together over time and, much like some of the other exercises mentioned, can be done almost anytime!
1. Going Barefoot
Our top exercise isn’t really an exercise, however, it is by far and away the best thing we should all be doing to strengthen our feet and the beauty is, it doesn’t require you to set any time aside to do it. Just take your shoes off and go about your day as you normally would!
Modern-day Humans have largely lost a lot of the ability to use their feet effectively because we wear shoes all the time, shoes that give us support, provide comfort on tough surfaces and overall provide protection from the world around us.
By doing all this, they have also weakened our feet. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent and efficient, they’re not going to waste energy maintaining a muscle that we don’t use.
So the most effective way to counteract this is to simply ditch the shoes! Go barefoot as often as you can reasonably get away with! Try to walk on as many different surfaces as you can. grass, carpet, tile, wood, stable, unstable, flat, bumpy. You want to challenge your feet as often as you can to allow them to grow and adapt.
For those situations where it’s not possible to go barefoot (hygiene or social reasons), there is actually a company who manufacture a shoe that allows us to mimic barefoot walking as much as possible; the Vibram Five Fingers. They look a little silly, but if you want to take your foot strength to the next level, these shoes will have you covered when you’re out in public.
And there we have it! 5 excellent exercises that are guaranteed to improve your foot strength. So why not give them a try?