Your feet may take a serious pounding when you run, but chances are you (like most runners) neglect foot mobility and care. Spending a few minutes on these stability-builders (do them while you’re watching TV!) will be a game-changer–you’ll have a stronger foundation and prevent future injuries.
If you’ve never done foot mobility or strength before, ease into these exercises and increase or decrease repeats as needed. Incorporate them into your warm up or cool down routine a few times a week, or try a few anytime you’re relaxing on the couch.
Toe curls strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet, essential for maintaining arch support and proper foot mechanics during running.
Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Curl your toes inward as if you’re grabbing the floor, then release. Do three sets of 15–20 repetitions for each foot.
Stand in bare feet with hands on the back of a chair or wall for stability, if needed. Rise up onto the ball of one foot, hovering the other foot above the ground if possible (leave your toes touching if you need to, and work up to lifting the leg). Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, and switch to the other leg. Repeat for three sets, build up to five.
Toe spreading helps improve toe mobility and strengthens the muscles responsible for toe alignment, which can enhance stability during the push-off while running.
Sit or stand with your feet flat on the ground. Spread your toes as wide as possible, then bring them back to a neutral position. Repeat for three sets of 15–20 repetitions.
Towel scrunches strengthen the muscles in your toes and on the bottom of your feet, and contribute to better foot stability and proprioception.
Place a small towel on the floor. Stand barefoot, and use your toes to scrunch up the towel toward you. Release and repeat for three sets of 15–20 repetitions.