Stronger feet can relieve back pain, make you run faster, improve balance, and reduce ankle and feet injuries. Get-Fit Guy has 5 tips for stronger feet.
Tip #3: Do Single Leg Exercises
While some of the balance activities I mentioned earlier will help strengthen your feet, I also recommend standing on one leg and practicing rolling your entire body weight from the outside of your foot to the inside of the foot and back, until your foot is tired. You can do this at home, or as a warm up at the gym.
While at the gym, it can also be helpful to do cable kick forwards and cable kick back exercises while standing on one foot. If your tiny foot muscles start to burn and fatigue with these movements, you’ll know you’re conditioning your foot muscles. You may find that as you do these types of exercises, the bottom of your foot, your calf muscles, or your Achilles tendon feel tight or painful. So you may also need to work on the flexibility of the back of your legs with calf stretches and foam rolling.
Tip #4: Go Barefoot
As I discussed in The 411 on Barefoot Running, it takes about 4-8 weeks for muscular adaptation to occur.So if you want to start running barefoot, take baby steps. For example, for the first 4 weeks, you can simply walk barefoot for 20-30 minutes each day and try to have your shoes off as much as possible, especially when standing at work or home. For the next 2 weeks, begin to run barefoot for very small distances on soft surfaces, like a few laps around a park or any easy jog several blocks around a soft track, just 2-3 times per week, and no more than 1 mile. Each week, gradually increase this volume.
See also: The 411 on Barefoot Running
After 8 weeks, if your feet are pain-free and you feel comfortable on soft surfaces, you can start experimenting with harder surfaces, paying very close attention to how your feet feel and whether or not anything hurts (which is a good clue that your feet aren’t quite strong enough yet for longer distances or hard surfaces). I used this approach for the past couple of years, and a few weeks ago I ran about 7 miles around town barefoot (not that I endorse this for everyone, but it’s just an example of how tough your feet can get).
Tip #5: Include Plyometrics
You can condition your feet to better withstand the impact of the ground. This is especially important if you’re used to always wearing shoes, since the cushioning of a normal shoe provides significant impact reduction and absorption. Plyometrics are explosive exercises in which you hop, bound, and skip, and reverse direction as quickly as possible after landing on the ground. Try side-to-side hops and single leg jumps onto a box.
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