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One of the worst things that can happen to a new runner is that they end up with foot pain.
Beginning runners tend to ramp up their training too quickly and, when paired with not taking proper care of your feet, this can lead to that pain and potential injuries. If you are one of those unfortunate people who have started to experience foot pain, no worries. I'm going to show you how you can avoid some of that foot pain by adding in some key stretches and exercises for your feet.
Ball Roll on Arch
The first one we're going to do is a little bit of mobility work for our arches. You are going to need some kind of a ball for this exercise. I have a lacrosse ball here, but a tennis ball or anything similar works.
Take the lacrosse ball and put it underneath your foot. I'm going to start at the top part of my foot here. As you can see, I'm on the ground; I am not going to put too much weight on my foot. I don't need my whole body weight pushing down. I'm going to slowly start to move back and forth from underneath the first knuckle, below my big toe, all the way down to my heel on the outside of my arch, working back and forth. And I'm going to slowly start to move inwards out towards my pinkies, just going up and down and back and forth.
Now for me, I have, as you can see, decently high arches. I tend to get a little bit of pain in my arch and I really like to focus attention on some of those tender spots. Ooh, right there. When I'm feel a tender spot while rolling, I'm going to pause, point my toe up, flex and extend. Once again, not putting too much pressure on my feet here, especially if this is your first time doing this. You want to be nice and easy and controlled. And then you're going to switch to other side.
Spend two-ish minutes on this exercise.
Flex and Extend with Band
The next move we're going to do is going to be a little bit of mobility and strength built combined. For this you are going to need a band. If you don't have a band that is okay — you can use a towel, or even a long sleeve shirt with the arms tied together.
I'm going to sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me. Put a little bit of bend in the knees. I'm going to take my band and I'm going to put it right around the middle part of my foot up on the top portion of the arch. I don't want to put it too much on my toes because once I point my toes towards me, my band might slip and I might get a slap in the face. I also don't want it too low because then it's not going to do anything. So, right in the middle of the foot.
The nice thing about this exercise is that you can make it harder or easier by adjusting the band to make it tighter (harder) or releasing it so there is more give (easier). I am going to do about 10 to 15 reps for this exercise on each side. I'm going to point my toes all the way back, and then push them out as far as I can, flexing and extending the foot. Be sure to do this exercise with slow and controlled movement. Don't let your foot spring back — move slowly as you extend and flex.
I'm sure you've heard of yoga, but what about toe-ga? That's yoga, for your toes.
I'm going to stand up for this one. The first thing we're going to do is focus on pushing the big toe down into the ground and just slowly lifting and holding up my four other toes.
The first couple times I started to do this my feet really started to cramp because I was just scrunching my feet up. If that happens, shake out your feet and give them a couple of squeezes there.
After you've done that, you are going to do the opposite. Focus on pushing your other four toes down and just lifting up the big toe. Lifting up the big toe. You'll probably notice a big difference on each foot as well too. And that's okay. That's why we're here. That's why we're doing this, to get to know our feet a little bit better.
Once again, try to aim for 10 to 15 reps with both of these exercises. In between you can go into a little bit of a down dog position. I like to kind of just sit on my toes and stretch them out here. Kind of sit my weight back into my heels. Take a couple deep breaths. Let those feet stretch out in between. I like to do the other two exercises first and save this one for last, because hopefully by that time, my feet are going to be nice and warmed up.
One of the great things about taking the time to work on foot strength and mobility is it doesn't take a lot of effort.
We can do these foot stretch and mobility exercises multiple times a week and it's really not going to fatigue us. Try to add these exercises in about three to four times a week. If you're newer to these exercises or you are experiencing a little bit of pain, start on the easier side and build into it. We don't want to just take it on all or nothing. Because it is easy, it sometimes we take it too far. So once again, just like anything else, we want to make sure that you're building up into it.
Happy feet = happy running!