Because of the foot’s unique relationship with the ground, the strength and structure of the foot impacts every aspect of our posture and movement.
Chronic use of footwear, inactivity and prior injury, can all contribute to a breakdown in our foot strength.
Below are our top three foot strengthening exercises that Dr Splichal recommends to all her patients.
Short Foot Exercise
Short foot exercise (SFE) or “foot doming” is one of the most effective foot exercises which can improve small muscle weakness and collapsing arches. The exercise conditions your feet muscles for all functional demands of gait including balance, shock absorption and propulsion.
How do you do short foot?
Start by finding your foot tripod which is under your first toe, fifth toe and heel. Lift the toes, spread them out and place them back down onto the ground. Using your intrinsic foot muscles, start to push the tips of the toes down into the ground. When you do this you may see or feel your arch start to lift.
Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 5 times per side.
If you experience cramping, simply decrease the intensity of the exercise. To see a full video on how to perform SFE click HERE
How effective is short foot?
In one study, short foot exercise was used to address chronic foot instability. Thirty adults were monitored during exercise for eight weeks. Scientists measured the quantitative somatosensory of joint position sense, vibration sensory thresholds, balance, and ankle instability. The group that performed the short foot exercise showed significant improvement in all the categories. SFE was more effective than regular physical therapy for treating chronic ankle sprain patients.
Single leg training is one of the best ways to challenge and strengthen the foot muscles.
Try to incorporate standing on one leg when brushing your teeth, cooking or doing dishes. Aim for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
To further challenge your balance you can incorporate eye movement exercises, such as looking to the right and left, or incorporate cognitive training, such as counting backwards from 100 in multiples of 3.
Can stimulation of the foot with sensory input actually strengthen your feet muscles? Absolutely!
The skin on the bottom of your feet is critical for balance, posture, motor control and human locomotion. Stimulating the sensory nerves of the feet, leads to muscular contractions of the intrinsic muscles.
Stimulation can come from hardwood floors, whole body vibration platforms, pebble paths and even the Naboso Insoles & Mats.
When incorporating different surface for foot stimulation and strengthening, we at Naboso like to recommend surface variability. This means that small doses of a variety of stimulation keeps the nervous system tuned and the foot strong.
Looking to learn even more about strengthening the foot and building a strong foundation? Check out Dr Splichal’s book Barefoot Strong.