Over the years I’ve met with many patients who experience occasional foot pain. Some days they cruise around town with a spring in their step. Other days might leave them feeling anything but ‘springy.” What gives? Well, there are many factors that can cause occasional foot pain. A really long day on your feet can cause swelling, inactivity can cause soft tissue and joints to tighten, and a new workout routine might leave you with plantar fasciitis. Perhaps you, too, are one of the many individuals who experience foot pain.
So, what can you do to alleviate this pain? Implementing a daily regimen of foot stretches can go a long way. In fact, a study conducted by University of Virginia’s Kinesiology Program found that nearly all injuries and pain to the lower extremities can benefit from a course of treatment that includes therapeutic exercise. While their focus was on athletes, this is good news for anyone who wishes to relieve foot pain and increase the muscle strength necessary to avoid it in the future. The following simple stretches can help put a spring back in your step.
Practice these simple stretches every day to loosen tight muscles in your feet and stimulate blood flow. Select one or two to try or do all six for a full foot routine!
1. Assisted Foot Stretches
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out long in front. Loop an exercise band, scarf, or towel around the ball of your left foot. While keeping your left leg straight, pull the band toward you for 30 seconds of gentle resistance. Repeat this 3 to 5 times and then switch to the right leg.
2. Cross Legged Stretches
While seated in a chair cross your right leg over left knee, making a figure 4 shape. With your right hand hold your toes and pull them towards your shin. Stay like this for 30 seconds. Repeat this 3 to 5 times before alternating sides.
3. Runner’s Stretch
Stand arm’s distance from a wall and press your palms against the wall right in front of you. Slide your right foot back and push against the wall with your palms, allowing your left knee to bend while your right heel maintains contact with the ground. Hold this stretch without pulsing. You will feel the stretch all the way down the back side of your right leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times and then switch to your other side.
4. Kneeling Stretches
Come to all-fours on a yoga mat, rug, or towel with your toes propped under. Carefully sit back on your heels, toes still beneath you, and feel the stretch along the bottom of the feet. Remain kneeling for 30 seconds and then return to all-fours. Repeat 3 to 5 times, each time returning to all-fours for a few breaths.
5. Stair Stretches
Stand on a stair with your right foot at the front of the stair and your left foot at the back–so that only your left toes are on the stair and the rest of the foot is hanging off the edge. Allow the heel to drop for 30 seconds and then press it up for 10. Repeat this combination 3 to 5 times and then swap so that your left foot is at the front and your right is hanging off the edge.
6. Iced Stretches
While sitting in a chair, place the arch of your foot over the top of a frozen water bottle and slowly roll the bottle against your foot, forwards and backwards, 5 times. Then switch to the other foot.
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