How Runners Can Improve Full Foot Strength
The average runner lands on her feet about 10,000 times during an hour-long run. Add the countless miles runners put in and you’d assume this is enough of a workout to build some pretty strong foot muscles, right?
The truth is that running mostly strengthens the muscles involved in planting your feet on the ground and pointing your toes downwards. This leaves numerous other small muscles spread throughout your ankle and foot weak and susceptible to common running injuries like Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains among others.
Most runners tend to overlook foot strengthening exercises and yet the feet are the foundation for the rest of the body. The stronger they are, the more stability they’ll provide, giving you greater propulsion, power, control and balance as you run. Not to mention the reduced risk of injury and increased resilience to tackle those miles and running trails.
Here are some exercises to ensure that your feet remain strong enough to handle the pounding. These exercises are quite simple so you can easily incorporate them into your daily running routine:
- TIP TOE WALKING – Walking on the tips of your toes is a great way to improve your balance. Make this exercise more challenging by carrying light weights as you walk. Just take care not to overdo it.
- TOWEL CURLS – Replace regular toe curls with this fun exercise. Start by putting a towel on the floor and keeping your foot flat on it. Then using your toes, grab the towel and pull it towards you without lifting your heel. Do this regularly to strengthen your front shin muscles.
- PICK-THE-MARBLE– This is another easy way to give your toes and arches a quick workout. Begin by putting some small objects like marbles or pebbles on the floor and place a small cup near your feet. Next, pick up the objects one at a time and drop them in the cup. Take turns doing this with both feet.
- CALF RAISES – You can’t afford to ignore your calves especially if cross training is part of your running routine. This workout will help loosen and stretch tight calf muscles. To do them, stand on a step, letting your heels hang off the edge. Use the balls of your feet to push yourself up, hold this position for 15-20 seconds then drop your heels below the level of the step. Do several reps throughout the day.
- BAREFOOT RUNNING – Once you withdraw the support provided by running shoes, the stabilizing muscles in your ankles and feet are forced to work harder, becoming stronger in the process. Take care to start off slowly by first walking barefoot on grass then gradually build up to jogging then running for longer stretches. This will help lengthen your Achilles tendon.
As you continue training, keep looking for new ways to exercise your feet. After all, they are the key to your running streak so keep them healthy and strong.
Written by: Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet. You can read more of Kevin’s writings by connecting with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter
Linking up with Running With Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday!