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At-home exercise: pre-run foot strength routine

Your feet will get stronger with this warmup, which in turn will help you improve as a runner

Photo by: Jon-Erik Kawamoto

The annual Trail Special from Canadian Running Magazine has finally hit news stands, and Jon-Erik Kawamoto is back with a trail-focused strength routine for off-road runners (although it will benefit road runners, too). Kawamoto, a strength and conditioning specialist who owns a gym — JKConditioning — in St. John’s, N.L., recommends adding this quick and simple warmup to your regular schedule before hitting the trails every day. To run through the routine, watch the video below, or find it in the Canadian Running Trail Special, which is now available in stores across the country. 

“If there’s any body part that a runner neglects, it’s their feet,” Kawamoto says in his video. He says many runners ignore their feet until they start to experience issues, at which point it’s too late and they already have plantar fasciitis, Achilles problems or tight calves. “As trail runners, you guys need to have super strong feet so you can be resilient on the trails and to be nimble, to jump roots and rocks and climb hills.”

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Since so many runners forget about taking care of and strengthening their feet, Kawamoto thought it was the perfect body part to tackle with his latest set of exercises. “Feet have muscles, too, and they need to be strong just like your quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings.” Kawamoto notes that this is not a workout, though, and it’s instead a pre-run warmup routine, and he says runners should perform it before every trail run. 

This may seem tedious, and you might think it’s not necessary to add this type of warmup to your routine before every run. Like all of the strength work that Kawamoto has recommended in past issues of Canadian Running, though, this will go a long way in preventing injuries and ensuring that you remain healthy run after run. 

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Consider your options here: you can spend a few minutes with this foot strength warmup before each run, or you can ignore your feet until they become a problem, at which point you might have to take a break from running to recover. One option certainly seems better than the other. 

To learn how to perform each of these six exercises, watch Kawamoto’s video so you know the process for each one, and make sure to also check out the Trail Special in print. 

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CEP, is a strength and conditioning coach, a regular contributor to Canadian Running and co-owner of JKConditioning, a personal training, nutrition and run coaching company in St. John’s, Nfld. Find out more at JKConditioning.com

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