Here are five movements to help with foot pain, whether it’s tightness in your arch or tension in your heel (or both). These movements will help stretch all of the areas surrounding the foot, which helps take the pressure off the foot so it can move in a pain-free range of motion.
Big Toe Rock back
This is a great stretch that you should feel through your arch and the first metatarsal (big toe). Start with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Tuck your big toe under to feel the stretch in your arch. Shift your hips back to create that stretch and then rock forward to the starting position. Do this movement 5-8 times.
Tip: Do not hold the pose until you feel pain, only hold until you feel that deep stretch and then rock out of it.
Seated Knee Lift
This stretch is great for anyone who deals with shin splints. Start in the same position as the first movement, but bring your toes down and together. As you lift one knee up at a time, you'll create a stretch of the anterior aspect of the shin, taking pressure off of your tibialis anterior muscle (which spans from your tibia to the first metatarsal bones of the foot). Do this move 5-8 times.
Tip: Try to lift your knee higher each time to get a little bit more of a stretch through the anterior aspect of the shin.
Half-Kneeling Ankle Series
This exercise moves in three directions. Anatomically speaking, this stretch increases the dorsiflexion of your ankle joint. But you will also feel the stretch through the calf complex.
Start in the half kneeling position with your hand on the top of your leg. Start to move your knee forward over your big toe. Move back and forth - five times in each direction. Next, you’ll switch directions and move your knee towards your middle toe. The last direction is towards your pinky toe. Be sure to keep your heel grounded as your shift forward.
Downward Dog Calf Stretch
Time to get that calf properly stretched out. This popular yoga pose can work wonders for your feet. From the positioning on your hands and feet, start pedaling each foot with a slight bend in the knee.
The calf is a two-joint muscle. It's going to cross your knee and also cross your ankle, so you want to make sure that everything which attaches on the foot is getting mobilized. This will increase blood flow to help with a temporary increase in the range of motion of those areas surrounding the foot.
This final exercise uses a ball underneath the arch of your foot. Start in the half kneeling position and place the ball underneath the arch of your foot. If you put too much pressure into this ball or the ball is too hard, you might cause pain to the arch.
We DO NOT want to cause pain. If there is too much pressure, just offload your body weight a little bit to take pressure off of the foot. You also do not want to push the ball into the bone, which can cause bruising. Do this for 30-60 seconds to increase blood flow to the area and give yourself a self-myofascial release.
Tip: start with a tennis ball and then progress to a lacrosse ball.
Don't let your aches and pains slow you down or prevent you from staying active! Your local Renew Physiotherapist can help you move better, feel better, and perform better!