5 Foot Strengthening Tips for Runners
© 2017 Runner’s Tribe, all rights reserved.
By Tristan Ferris. M.D. – Runner’s Tribe
What shoes to wear, gait analysis, orthotics, stability vs. neutral shoes; endless gimmicks. Finding consensus among professionals, most with vested interests can be a challenge.
However, one close to unanimous opinion is that having strong feet is a hell of a lot better than having weak feet. So what are some great ways to strengthen our feet?
- Judicious Barefoot Running/Walking (very carefully): Two to three light sessions per week will help to strengthen the feet. Start with very light 3-5 minute jogs on grass 2-3 times per week, and slowly build it up. Walking around doing day-to-day activities barefoot will also aid in developing foot strength.
- Toes and Plantar Fascia Exercises: Stand on a towel and gradually pull it under your foot with your toes, then push it back out flat. Pick marbles up with your toes. Once you have these both mastered, if you are super keen then progress to exercises with therabands.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes: More important than gait analysis or buying into the latest fad marketing by shoe companies, just buy a pair of comfortable running shoes. In a United Stated military study from 2001, two hundred and six soldiers were allowed to choose from a range of shoes that varied widely in hardness, arch shape, and foot shape. The shoes they chose had no apparent connection with the soldiers’ foot “types,” but the number of injuries dropped significantly when they simply chose a shoe based on comfort.
- Balancing: Standing on stable ground, balance on one foot with your eyes open. Once you can do that for one minute, try it with your eyes closed. Once that is mastered then progress to an unstable surface such as a wobble board.
- Calf Drops: Strong calves are pretty important if you wish to have strong feet. Stand with the balls of your feet on a step or stair, and let your heels hang over. Rise up onto the balls of your feet, hold and then lower back down slowly. Do the exercise with both bent and straight knees. Build up the number of reps and sets.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are countless other exercises to strengthen our feet, but this is an excellent start.