When you take part in sports actively, you will notice that your feet will definitely take some beating. This in turn can mean some related issues like pain in the knee or aches in the lower back.
Like the rest of your body, your feet too need to go through some conditioning and training for them to be in peak condition. In fact you will see that any imbalance in the feet will tend to limit the motion which will affect your walking and running. Feet have two types of musculature; one being extrinsic and the other intrinsic.
The extrinsic foot muscles have a single attachment in the foot and the other end is in the leg. The movement of these muscles is related to the lower part of the leg.
The intrinsic foot muscles on the other end have both the ends within the foot itself. The motions of these muscles are related to other joints in the feet.
When you wear shoes, what it means to the muscles on the feet is equivalent to wearing a cast on the arm. So to prevent disuse of the foot muscles, you need to keep working on them.
Why do you need to do workouts for the feet?
The muscles in the feet make up for a quarter of the muscles in the complete body. So overlooking the condition of these muscles will be like not taking care of a large portion of your muscles. Plus exercises that keep the foot muscles well also help in keeping the muscles of the lower let going. The strength of the feet will dictate the mechanics of the foot, will govern the walking patterns, stabilization of the ankle and balance of the complete body.
In fact toes are made to have as much dexterity as the fingers like extending, flexing, adducting and abducting. However when you attempt to do these, you will find it tough to have one toe do this in isolation to the others. This is also another reason to get started on adding strength to the feet.
Toe Lifts: Try and lift the big toe by itself isolating the other ones, and keep working on this till it happens. Then move on to lifting each toe individually till all of them are up and then reverse the process putting them down starting with the smallest and ending with the big toe.
Toe Abduction: Since are feet are always squished and thrust into shoes that are narrow, this limits the movement of the toes. It makes the toe abductors weak and the adductor tights which keep toes from spreading. Stand up without shoes with the weight on heels and lift the toes. Spread them apart without lifting from the floor.
Toe flexor stretching: Stand upright and push one leg behind while putting the top of the foot on the floor. Now relax and stretch ankle. Come back to start pose if there is cramping in toes but work towards holding this pose for each foot for about 60 seconds.
Make bottom of feet stronger: You can pick small pebbles with toes one at a time off the floor or scrunch towel on floor with toes.
Circling foot and pointing with therabands: Most foot related issues occur due to the range of motion being limited. This easy exercise will help restore things to have a better range of movement. Simple circling of the foot can be taken a step above by using a resistance band and looping it around the feet. Flex and point for 20 times by creating tension on the band. Do one foot at a time.
Walking without footwear: Once in a while take a walk without footwear or if you feel the necessity with simple and basic footwear. This will help you get the feel of things and keep you balanced.
Rehabilitation of the feet: To put new life into your worn out feet, you can indulge in a massage or soak it in some water and salts to soften and make them supple. You can even use massage balls.