Your feet are dynamic and incredible structures! Did you know that 1/4 of the bones in the human body are in the feet? That is right friends, your feet have an incredible:
- 26 bones
- 33 joints
- More than 100 muscles, tendons(muscle to bone), and ligaments (bone to bone)
It is this complex structure that provides for our fantastic ability to stand upright (and the anthro nerd inside of me can’t help but geek out here: Walking upright on two legs is the trait that defines the hominid lineage: Bipedalism separated the first hominids for the rest of the four-legged apes, curious for more: smithsonian will tell you all about it!).
So rock, rock on feet!!! We are standing upright, walking, running, jumping and just generally kicking butt thanks to you. But do we really thank our feet enough? Sometimes, we don’t really pay attention to our bodies until they are hurting…as a physical therapist I know this all too well. After an injury I find myself doing everything possible to AVOID that pain and discomfort again.
However, what if we learned from our past follies and took a daily dose of prevention instead of Advil after the fact?
So, first things first adios your shoes and try these 3 exercises to keep your feet happy and healthy:
- Roll ’em out! Have a tennis or lacrosse ball (dog lovers borrow one from Fido if it isn’t slobber covered 😉 ) ? Give the soles of your feet a little massage. Our plantar fascia is a long ligament that connects your heel bone (calcaneus) to the base of our toes (metatarsals). There are layers of muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels beneath the plantar fascia. Stimulating this area will help decrease tension and bring much needed circulation to an area that may have been cooped up in a shoe all day.
- Give them toes some space (my personal fave)! Ok, interlace your fingers like you’re praying…got it? Now, take one hand and do the same thing with one foot (opposites work best: Right foot / Left hand). Get in there, make small circles
- Streeeeetch! This one can be intense so start slow. Remember that plantar fascia from above? A fantastic way to stretch it is with body weighted toe extension (bringing your toes UP closer to the top of your foot). Toe extension, especially your big toe, is so important for proper gait mechanics when walking and running. You can do this in one of two ways.
- Standing elevate your heel and bring some extension into your toes by rocking your body weight forward
- Much more intense is to kneel with your toes tucked under (get ’em all in there, yes I’m talking to you pinky toe) and try to hold for several minutes.
If you do have pain in your feet or an injury, go visit your friendly neighborhood physical therapist…we can help you get “back on your feet” (ha!) and then you can play the #prevention game with us!
#choosePT – Find a physical therapist here: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Default.aspx
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