Run Your Best Race And Pace Pt. 14: 5 Workouts For Strong & Stable Feet
“Everyone can run. You just need a pair of running shoes to get started.”
Have you heard this saying before? We don’t fully agree because, besides the right running shoe, you need (first and foremost) healthy feet. Healthy feet need attention and care, as they carry us many, many miles especially during training phases. What do you think? Do you agree with that sentence or do you give thanks to your feet’s performance by pampering them? Not yet? Well, our rejuvenation package for runners’ feet will help you change that starting today. Because your feet should be just as fit as you are.
Stable feet – why you should care
When running, for a short moment both your feet are in the air. The forces exerted on your foot when touching the ground again can sum up to multiple times your own body weight – and they have to be cushioned. Although our feet are pretty sturdy and geniously built, they can cause lots of pain when overstrained and/or neglected. And no runner should do without happy, healthy feet! Strong foot muscles combined with great care are a must for top performance in any training run or race. We often only notice our feet when they’re hurting, due to bruises or skin irritation. These are all signs indicating that the complex anatomical construction of your foot is somehow impaired. Possible causes can be too tight running shoes, overstrain, your running style, overweight or your foot static. Stable feet constitute the base of your entire body – they even impact the position of your hips and pelvis when standing, walking or running. Even your spine can benefit from healthy feet, if movement patterns are conducted right starting from the feet. Everything’s connected!
Strengthen your feet muscles – Prevent injury
Stability and movements of your feet are controlled by instrinsic (short feet muscles located in your foot) and extrinsic (muscles originating from outside your foot skeleton) muscles – and we often forget about those smaller, shorter ones! For every step we take, the different layers of our intrinsic muscles control the extent and velocity of deformation of our foot arches. If those short muscles don’t work properly, our body’s base becomes unstable and can result in foot pain. If your feet are hurting, nothing will go smoothly. Don’t let that happen!
Workout for runners’ feet
When preparing for an important race, there’s a lot of things to be taken into consideration. From your training sessions’ mileage to tapering phases to the ideal nutrition plan before and during the race. With all this on our mind, we often neglect our feet muscles, and particularly the intrinsic muscles. Scientists are gathering more and more proof that targeted foot muscle training comes with numerous benefits for runners and improves the functionality of the foot. Check out our top 5 exercises for stronger feet muscles & make them part of your workout routine:
1. Toe curling
Toe curling is one of the most effective exercises to train your instrinsic feet muscles. Whether you’re standing on both legs, on just one leg, inching forward or sitting at your desk… this move is perfect to strengthen your feet!
2. Toe yoga
Can you intentionally move certain toes? Try it out! It may be more difficult than it seems. Start by lifting your big toe while trying to keep all other toes on the ground, then the other way around. This so-called “sun salutation of toe yoga” refers to intentionally splaying out all toes to eventually extend the gaps between your toes.
3. Heel lifting
A stable ankle joint aids in ideal force transmission and prevents runners from getting injured (e.g. twisting your ankle). Heel lifting is THE exercise for strengthening the ankle joint. Lift your heels as high as possible, then slowly let them drop again. To intensify this exercise, try it balancing on one leg, on a step or an unstable surface (like a rolled-up yoga mat). These variations not only train your ankle joint, but also your balance and coordination.
Take off your shoes and stroll across a meadow, wade through a little stream or walk along a gravel path. Scientists found that walking and running barefoot strengthens our feet muscles. Plus, the soles are stimulated with sensory information, thereby improving your postural stability. Head out for a shoeless run on safe territory – that’s like doping for your feet!
5. Outer edge – inner edge
Shift your weight onto the outer edges of your feet while keeping your entire body upright. Then try standing or walking on the inner edges of your feet.
The possibilities to train your feet are endless! The best part: Those foot exercises don’t require a lot of time. What counts is doing them on a regular basis – try to incorporate those feet strengthening exercises into your everyday life. Work out your feet while brushing your teeth, during lunch break or during a recovery phase of your interval training.
Make time for your feet
Are you already training & strengthening your feet and want to know what else you can do to keep them happy & healthy? We’ve got a few more tips on how to treat your feet and show them your care:
Choose a running shoe that fits your foot! A good running shoe has to support the supination and form of your foot. Careful with too tight shoes, they might make you feel safe and well-supported, yet often lead to blue toenails and calluses. Remember: Expensive running shoes alone don’t make your feet stronger!
- Mobilizing ankle joints & midfoot should be part of any runner’s workout and can be easily included in the warm up.
- Pamper your reliable companions with a soothing foot massage or a foot bath (use calming additives like camomile).
- Treat your feet (and yourself) to a mani-pedi! Short toenails with rounded edges minimize the risk of bruises on adjacent toes.
Reserve 10 minutes each day & dedicate them to your feet! Don’t forget: They don’t only carry you across the finish line, but also to the winner’s podium. Do you have some tips to keep your running feet in tip-top shape? Share them with us in the comments below!