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Unleashing the Power of Intrinsic Foot Strength: Why It Matters for Your Health and Performance

Updated: Aug 19, 2023


This is a close up shot of a dancer's feet doing a releve in fifth position in the rain. Her toe nails are hot pink.

Every step you take, jump you make, and dance you shake is thanks to those under-appreciated wonders called feet. Yet, the shoes we often wear, ranging from thickly cushioned sneakers to towering heels, may inadvertently be weakening these vital parts of our body. Imagine wearing a back brace forever. Sounds stifling, right? Your feet might feel the same way!


Did you know a significant number of people barely utilize their intrinsic foot muscles? This could open the door to a slew of complications. Dive in with us to discover some nifty exercises that can rejuvenate and empower your feet.


A woman is doing the toe exercise described in the blog. She's lifting her big toes up while keeping all of the other toes pressing down into the floor.

👣 Foot Control Check-In

Let's gauge where we stand. Try this: plant four of your toes down while lifting your big toe. Feel that odd cramp? That's your foot's version of a brain freeze—a sign it's not used to moving this way. This cramping is a sign of neurological confusion or the inability of your nervous system to produce the movement you're asking it to do.


To further assess your foot control, you can also flex your big toe into the ground as hard as possible and then lift the lateral four toes. Again, you may experience cramping in your inner arch and extensor groups. These exercises can help you gauge your current level of foot control and identify areas that need improvement.


And now try to lift each toe individually. Can you do it? Or do you have a bit of toe amnesia? That's what happens after years of wearing modern shoes..


A man is performing the towel crunch exercise to build foot strength. He's using a grey washcloth.

Exercises To Boost Foot Control

Once you have assessed your foot control, you can start incorporating exercises to activate and strengthen your intrinsic foot muscles. Here are some exercises that you can try:


Toe Tango: Try the toe-lift test mentioned earlier. Aim to lift each toe one by one and hold it for a few seconds. Can't do it? That's okay! If your toes seem to move together, use your hands to hold the other toes down and help the one you're trying to lift.


Toe Squeeze: Place a pen between your toes and give it a gentle squeeze, ensuring no toe bending happens. This works your toe adductors.


Toe Abduction Challenge: Lift all toes, lay them down one by one, then raise and spread them out. Think of it like playing the piano with your toes.


Towel Power Crunch: Got a towel? Start easy with a bigger one, grabbing it with your toes, and progress to more challenging versions with smaller towels or even tissue.



📆 Making Foot Power a Habit

A woman is standing barefoot on the Naboso Neuroball domes.

To get the most out of these exercises, it's important to incorporate them into your regular routine. You can start by performing these exercises a few times a week and gradually increasing the frequency and duration as your foot muscles get stronger.


You're also welcome to join my free Roll & Release classes on Sundays where we sometimes end class with these foot exercises after working with the Naboso Neuroball.


It's also important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as overexertion can lead to injuries. Here are some tips for incorporating these exercises into your routine:

  • Start Slow: Begin with a few reps, then ramp up intensity and duration to prevent strain.

  • Stay Consistent: Aim for 2-3 sessions weekly, increasing as your foot strength grows.

  • Tune In: If exercises hurt, pause, adjust, and consult a healthcare expert for sharp or prolonged pain.

  • Level Up: As you adapt, add challenges with heavier towels or unstable surfaces like balance boards.

  • Mix It Up: Blend foot exercises with other foot-health activities like calf raises and ankle circles for comprehensive care.


🌟 Why Foot Strength Matters

Here are some potential benefits:

  • Enhanced Stability: Strengthened foot muscles boost balance, particularly beneficial for athletes and activities needing precise foot control.

  • Injury Prevention: Strengthening reduces risks of ailments like plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains.

  • Optimized Foot Mechanics: Address issues like over-pronation for comfortable movement.

  • Better Performance: Stronger feet enhance balance and control in sports and activities.

  • Overall Foot Health: Regular exercise fosters good foot health and comfort.


Begin today for healthier, happier feet!


A female dance with long blonde hair and wearing a black cropped long-sleeve top and short skirt is doing a jump while barefoot.

 

Dr. Andreo Spina (lecture)

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