Day Three of “5 Days of Foot Love” Series

Day Three: Toe Exercises

You have 26 bones and 33 joints in each foot. And one quarter of the muscles in your entire body are below your ankles. That’s something to think about. We have the ability to be as dexterous with our feet as with our hands. But we aren’t. Why?

Katie Bowman painted a nice visual in one of her books (I’m sorry I can’t remember which one). But it stuck with me, so here’s my interpretation (this has the possibility of being vastly different from her’s. I make no guarantees. Who knows if I’m remembering it quite the same, but I’ll give it a go).

Imagine if around the time you were one years old your mother placed soft leather mittens with a thick sole over your hands. These were the softest mittens available. She only wanted the best for you. You wore these mittens all day, every day. Taking them off to sleep. At first, you were annoyed. You didn’t like having your fingers constrained. But eventually you grew used to it and started to compensate for your lack of dexterity. You’d scoop things up instead of using individual fingers, etc… It became your norm and you thought nothing about it.

If this were the case, you’d eventually notice that your fingers would lose their tonicity. You wouldn’t be able to move them individually at all. When one finger was lifted, they would all lift together (except for the thumb) and you wouldn’t really think of the fingers as something separate from your palm. Just one big block that moved together.

That paints quite a picture doesn’t it? We do this every day to our sweet feet.

Shoes are part of our culture. I’m not about to tell you to run barefoot in the snow. However, we do need to know how to exercise and stretch our feet (and ankles) to keep them supple and dexterous. I’d love to see that become part of our shoe culture. Wear the shoes, come home, take them off and give the feet a mini workout. 😉

This exercise I give you today may seem impossible to do at first. I couldn’t do it at all on one foot and only a tiny bit on the other when I started. But I kept practicing and so should you. It will get easier eventually. This only takes 2 or 3 minutes on each foot, so just do it!!

Practice raising just the toe while keeping the others down. Then reverse. Bring up the others while keeping the big toe down. That’s it. Just start there.

One more thing. Take note of your feet and make sure when you go to do this you aren’t pronating down towards the inside. Meaning if you have flat feet, shift the weight to the outside and rotate your femurs slightly outward so you have more of an arch. Doing foot workouts will build strength and create arches, but doing them in a pronated version won’t help in the long run. Do it well from the beginning so you don’t have to re-learn it later.

Here’s to happy feet!

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