As a runner, you should realize by now that strength training is part and parcel of your training program.
And if you are already mindful of your muscles, then congratulations!
Keep up the good work.
But, I still have a question: “Do you do any sort of feet strength training?”
If your answer is no, then, buddy, you are missing out, big time.
The Benefits of Feet Strength Training
Each foot has roughly 20 muscles, and the main ones are: the anterior tibial, the peroneal tibial, the posterior tibial, the flexors, and the extensors. Your feet has also 26 bones (25 percent of all bones in the human body are in the feet), 33 joints, and more than 80 tendons and ligaments.
We use our feet to stand, walk, run and perform almost every other athletic movement from squatting, balancing, jumping, etc. And truth be told, they can make or break us as runners.
So, it should come as no surprise that the feet are the most used and abused part of the body.
Not only that, any dysfunction or imbalance in the musculature structure of the feet may hinder full range of motion and interfere with a normal running gait, which, sooner or later, can lead to overuse injuries.
Some of the injuries include Achilles Tendinitis, chronic ankle sprains, knee pain/injury, even lower back pains and aches.
Nevertheless, as a runner, you can minimize the risks of injury by following a regular feet strength training program. In fact, the foot region needs strength training like much the rest of another muscle group.
Furthermore, ensuring good strength in the feet will not only help you avoid injury, but it can also boost your running speed, power, and mobility.
Runners Overlook Them
The bad news is most strength-conscious runners overlook the importance of good foot strength training.
That’s why today, dear reader, I decided to share with you one of my favorite foot strength training routines.
Yes, think feet curls, feet presses, feet push-ups (is there such a thing? Well, keep on reading to find out).
This routine will definitely help you improve your foundation of intrinsic foot strength.
The Lower Body Exercises You Need
Without further ado, here are the exercises you need. Feel free to perform them at least two to three times a week.
1. Shin Curls
While using a step or a box, stand while assuming an athletic position with the toes hanging off the edge as much as you feel comfortable.
Next, curl your toes and foot up toward your shin as high as possible without rocking backward, hold the dorsiflexed position for a moment, then slowly lower your toes to the starting position to complete one rep.
2. Single Leg Balance
Stand with feet hip-width apart, with the core engaged, back flat, and both hands are resting gently on your sides.
Next, lift your left leg straight toward the 12 o’clock position and balance on your right leg.
If you have any balance issues, then feel free to use a wall or a stable chair for more assistance.
For more challenge, try swinging the lifted leg forward and back, from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, so and so forth, or balance on a balance disc or a seat cushion.
3. Heel Walking
Lift up both your feet, then pace the whole length of the room by walking slowly on your heels. Make sure that you are on your heels the entire time.
For more, keep your toes pointed forward.
4. Toe Presses
Assume an athletic position with a slight bend in the knees.
Next, lift your toes off the ground then flex the foot (pull the ankle back towards your shin), hold the contraction for a count of three, then release it slowly to the ground.
You can do this exercise while standing tall or while sitting. Your choice.
5. Toe Curls
Start by placing a towel on the floor, then spread your toes like a fan, then grip the object and pull it toward you.
Repeat 8 to 10 times, then work the other foot.
6. Calf Raises
Begin by standing in a shoulder-width stance with the toes flat on the edge of a step or a box, near a doorway or a counter, then hold on light for balance.
Next, raise up by pushing your toes into the step, hold for a count of three, then lower your back to the starting position.
You’ll know that you are doing this one right once you start feeling a stretch in your calves.
7. Ankle Circles
While using a wall or a chair for balance, stand on your right foot, then raise the left foot a few inches off the floor.
Next, and without moving your legs, rotate your right ankle in a large circle in one direction.
Then perform a circular motion with the big toe. Clockwise then counter-clockwise.
When you are done with the right foot, release and repeat on the opposite side.
8. Toe Walks
Stand tall with your back flat, core engaged.
Next, while keeping the legs straight and heels pulled up towards the calves, walk forward on the balls of your feet for one full minute.
Make sure to keep your stomach tight and maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise. Whatever you do, do not fold at the waist.