If you’re like a lot of people, your list of resolutions this new year includes “exercise more.” But the thought of the sweat, the aching, the time commitment, oh, and did we mention the sweat? It can make the whole idea of exercising less appealing.
What if you had some exercises that wouldn’t make you break a sweat or take large chunks of your day? You’re in luck. We have just that.
These nine foot exercises will help you strengthen the muscles in your feet, whether you’ve had a recent injury, are prone to injuries, or just want to completely avoid the possibility of injuries. Here are the best foot exercises you can slip into your routine:
1. Toe curls.
Place a cloth on the ground. Use your toes to grab the object and pick it up. Repeat ten times on each foot. Alternative versions of this exercise include:
- Picking up the trail of socks that your kids left around the house with your toes
- Picking up small objects with your toes
- Picking up and putting down the same object over and over
2. Towel tug.
After you’ve picked up that towel off the ground with your foot, you can use it for your next exercise. Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Wrap the towel around the bottom of your foot. While keeping your knees straight, pull the towel so it stretches your calf for 30 seconds. Repeat ten times on each foot.
3. Foot roll.
For this exercise, you will pick an object to roll on the ground under your foot to massage your arch. This massaging exercises relieves plantar fasciitis pain. Put as much or as little pressure as your foot needs. Objects you can choose from include:
- A tennis ball
- A frozen water bottle
- A golf ball
- A large bouncy ball
4. Reverse calf raises.
You will need a step to complete this stretch. Stand on the bottom step with your heels hanging off the step. Lift up one foot. With the foot you are balancing on, slowly lower your heel so it goes below the step. Take ten seconds to lower your heel as far as you can. Repeat it twice on each foot. This exercise will help prevent a visit to an Achilles tendonitis doctor (also known as a podiatrist).
5. Ankle flexes.
Sit and cross your legs. With the top foot, raise your toes as if you are trying to reach your shin with them. Hold it there for ten seconds. Then point your toes straight down and hold your foot there for ten seconds, too. Repeat on each foot three times. An alternative to this would be to write the alphabet exaggeratedly with the toes of your top foot.
6. Big toe stretch.
Sit in a chair. Bring up one foot and put it on the thigh of the opposite leg. Grab your big toe and stretch it up, down, and side to side. Hold the toe in each direction for at least five seconds. Switch feet and repeat ten times on each side. (You’ll probably want to wash your hands after this one.)
7. Achilles stretch.
Stand facing a wall. Place your palms against the wall. Put one foot behind the other and straighten it. While keeping your heels flat on the floor and your hips pointed forward, slowly bend the knee on your front leg. As your hips move towards the wall, you should feel a gentle pull in your Achilles tendon. Hold it in that position for 30 seconds. Repeat it on the other leg.
8. Toe splay.
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Stretch your toes apart as far as they will go. Hold them in that position for five seconds, and repeat the exercises ten times. You can do both feet simultaneously, or you can alternate them.
9. Calf raises.
Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart. Slowly lift your heels so you stand on your toes and the balls of your feet. Keep your knees straight. Hold that position for six seconds, then slowly lower yourself. Repeat ten times.
By fitting in these simple foot exercises, you can keep your resolution going strong without even breaking a sweat.
Remember that regular aerobic exercise does help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight, build muscles, improve your mood, strengthen your heart, and sleep better. So, we highly recommend it to go along with your foot exercises, even if you do have to break a little sweat.