Did you know that there are 26 bones, 30 joints, and over 100 muscles in each of our feet? For such a small part of our bodies, the feet play a huge role in how we feel and move. That’s why we spend every single Essentrics class dedicating several exercises solely to our feet.
Think of your feet as the foundation of a house. If it’s slightly off, your house will be uneven and can potentially crumble. Yikes! The same can be said for our bodies. With tight feet we are setting off a chain reaction through our muscles that can lead to low energy, along with pain in our shins, knees, hips and lower back. Not to worry though, because we can correct our foundation by starting with a few simple Essentrics exercises.
Benefits of targeting your feet
By starting with our feet, the very bottom of our muscular chain, we can properly rebalance our entire body.
We will prevent atrophy of the tiny muscles in our feet that aren’t targeted when exercising in running shoes.
It improves our balance reflexes.
It ultimately reduces pain in the lower body.
It increases energy levels. If our toes and ankles are locked up, then the muscles in our legs (e.g. shins, calves) require more energy to move because they are unable to activate properly. By increasing mobility in our toes and ankles, we are literally putting an extra bounce in our step!
Here are some of my favourite exercises for the feet. They are simple and can be done anywhere. Kick off your shoes and start stretching!
Exercise 1: Heel raisers
Step 1: Stand tall with feet slightly apart. Make sure you are standing evenly on the soles of your feet.
Option A: Place one foot slightly behind the either.
Option B: Place both feet beside each other.
Step 2: Bend your knees and press into the floor. Make sure to pull up in your spine.
If doing option A - put more weight on your back leg.
Step 3: Straighten your legs and lift up on your toes. Make sure to have your weight distributed evenly through both legs.
Step 4: Lower the heels down and repeat the exercise 2-3 more times.
. Safety Tip: Make sure to do this in front of a mirror to ensure proper alignment in your ankles. If you have trouble with balance, use the wall or a chair for support.
Take it one step further: To make this more challenging, you can close your eyes and slowly turn your head to the left and then to the right while balancing on your toes.
Heel raisers with a barre
Step 1: With both hands on the barre (or chair), stand with feet slightly apart and bend your knees. Make sure to keep your back straight and your spine pulled up.
Step 2: Raise both heels while keeping your legs bent.
Step 3: Straighten your legs and stand as tall as you can.
Step 4: Lower the heels to the floor.
Step 5: Repeat exercise 2 more times.
Safety Tip: You must hold on to the chair or barre in order to protect your ankles. This is a powerful exercise for our ankles, and maintaining proper alignment is necessary.
Take it one step further
As you build strength with the exercise, you can amp it up by doing this sequence on one leg. Do 2-3 on each leg.