Your feet are your base. They hit the ground first with every step you take and bear the brunt of impact. Amazing structures with 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, strong feet help runners do important things like balance, engage their cores and maintain proper posture. Of course, our feet don’t operate alone. They’re attached to our ankles so those need to be tough, too. That’s why building a better athlete starts at the bottom with strength and stability in our feet and ankles. Here are some of Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to earn strong feet and improved performance:
Bare them: Lose your shoes as much as you can and go barefoot (or socked). Proprioception, the ability to sense where parts of our body are in relation to the others and the strength required for movement, gets destroyed by wearing shoes. This makes us visually dependent which slows reactions times and increases our risk of injury. By improving proprioception in bare feet we improve our foot’s ability to respond to the ground it touches, even when it’s back in a shoe, for better balance and fewer potential missteps.
Work them: Do toe gymnastics. Spread your toes out as far as you can then pull them back together or try moving each toe individually. You can also practice balancing on one foot. Keep your big toe flat and foot long to exercise the foot’s muscles as you work towards holding it for one minute with your eyes closed (an additional challenge). This will help develop balance and the strength of the tendons and ligaments that support your ankle as well. You might be surprised how hard this is on your first try but it can quickly improve with a little work.
Love them: After all that work, strong feet need a little love. Take care of them with a roller ball or massage, it’s easy to do while you’re catching up on the paper or news. This keeps blood and nutrients flowing to one of our most important body parts. Remember that each step starts with your foot then rolls up through your body. Take good care of your feet and they’ll take good care of you.
Spending a few minutes each day working towards strong feet will make anyone a better athlete. Get started today!