Working out is great for your whole body. It builds your strength and endurance, increases your circulation, improves metabolism, and generally benefits your health. Usually when people picture exercising, they imagine lifting weights or jogging—but what about work-outs for the toes? You might think it strange, but exercising your toes can help improve your overall stability and strength.
The Value of Strong Digits
Your toes and all the small muscles in your feet are not “extras” or unnecessary parts of your lower limbs. They are integral members that you use every time you take a step. They help you balance and allow your foot to adjust to the ground underneath you. They also help support your body weight and maintain normal foot positioning. Stronger, naturally supported feet are less likely to develop pain from overuse injuries as well.
Part of maintaining healthy feet, then, is keeping the whole foot—including your toes—fit and conditioned for your activities. Sometimes simple stretches and exercises can help you improve the balance, stability, and alignment in your lower limbs. Dr. Victoria Melhuish can help you determine the best conditioning regimen for your unique foot and ankle needs, especially if you already struggle with an uncomfortable problem.
Some basic exercises could include:
Static Toe Flexion – With feet flat on the floor, firmly press your toes downward into the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
Toe Spread – Leave your feet flat on the floor. Spread your toes as wide apart as you can and hold for a few seconds before relaxing. Repeat 10 times for each foot.
Toe Grabs – Try to pick up a towel, marbles, and pencil from the ground in turn using just your toes. You can do this sitting or balancing on one foot.
Toe and Heel Walking – walk across the room on your toes, keeping your heels off the ground the whole way. Then walk back on your heels, keeping your toes raised. Do this several times.
Point and Flex – Sitting with your legs straight in front of you, flex your foot all the way. Slowly roll through the foot until it is completely pointed, then reverse until it is flexed again. Do this several times with each foot.
Stretches are also important to help your feet from becoming too tight. Some basic ones include:
Towel Pull – Loop a towel around your toes and grasp the ends firmly. With your leg straight in front of you, pull back gently on the towel, drawing your toes toward yourself.
Calf Stretches – Facing a wall, stick one leg straight behind you. Bend the other knee and lean toward the wall, using it for balance. You should feel the pull in the back of the leg.
Plantar Massage – Holding one foot flexed, pull your toes back toward yourself with your hand. Use your other hand to gently massage the sole of your foot.
Foot Rolls – Roll your foot over a frozen water bottle or tennis ball to help massage the bottom of your foot.
As you do these exercises, your feet should slowly build up strength and stability. The movements shouldn’t cause pain, however. If you struggle with discomfort or have trouble completing any of the motions, stop and discuss it with Dr. Victoria Melhuish. She can check your lower limbs and make sure you aren’t developing a condition that the exercises could aggravate.
Your digits are important for your overall stability when you take a step and power when you push off the ground. Exercising your toes and investing in their health can help you improve different conditions of the feet and avoid overuse injuries later. Contact Sierra Foot & Ankle in Carson City, Nevada for an appointment or more information about exercises for your toes that could benefit your feet. Call us at (775) 783-8037 or use the form on the online contact page to reach us.