Whether you were up all night dancing at a friend’s wedding, worked a 12-hour shift on your feet, or just wore a pair of reasonably high heels to work, there’s a good chance that your feet are feeling it.
“The feet, especially the sole of the foot, is innervated by thousands of free nerve endings,” says Cameron Yuen, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., senior physical therapist at BeSpoke Treatments in New York City. “These nerves alert your body to compression, inflammation, and strain through the ligaments, fascia, tendons, muscles, and bones of the foot. And a long day of standing or dancing puts strain on these ligaments, fascia, tendons, and muscles.” Translation: All of these nerves are the reason your feet feel so much pain.
The worst part about it all? You were really hoping to get in a good workout today. You’re feeling well rested and energized, but the thought of walking to the gym and then standing on your feet to lift or take a group fitness class has you flinching a bit. So should you just skip your workout entirely? You actually don’t have to—but you may need to change things up a bit.
We asked our experts to share different workouts and exercises you can do when your feet are killing you, along with some moves and stretches you can do to help your feet feel better. Here are some of their suggestions.
Hop into the pool. “With swimming, you’re off your feet, and you’re getting a full-body workout,” says Luke Lombardo, AFAA-CPT, Ironman triathlete, and master trainer at Lagree Fitness in Los Angeles, CA. “You’re using your arms, core, back, and legs.”
Sign up for a mega-former or Pilates mat-based class. “While you will be standing for parts of the class, your feet will be supported by a soft surface on the machine or the mat,” says Lombardo. “And in mat-based classes, you spend very little time on your feet.”
“Pull up a yoga mat and perform different abs and core moves that won’t have you on your feet, like crunches and abs-wheel roll-outs,” says Lombardo. “This could also be beneficial if you integrate exercises where your feet are elevated to help promote circulation and alleviate inflammation.”
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“Foot and ankle pain is often less related to the tissues and strength of the feet, and more related to weakness and poor control at the hip and trunk,” explains Yuen. “Poor hip and trunk control leads to an inward collapse at the knee, ankle, and foot. Stabilizing the more proximal areas help with this chain of posture.” Here are some exercises that can help—along with video demonstrations made by the trainers at Bespoke. Perform 10 to 12 reps of each exercise below (on each side, if applicable).
“This exercise targets the glute maximus, one of the major muscles that controls the pelvis, and assists with control of the foot,” says Yuen.
How to: Start in a tabletop position with a mini resistance band wrapped around both feet. Extend your leg back to form a straight line, squeezing your glutes, then return to starting position.
“This exercise targets the glute maximus and medius, muscles that are essential for preventing inward collapse of the knee and ankle,” explains Yuen.
How to: Get on all fours with your knees directly beneath your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Wrap a mini band around both ankles. Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg up and out to the side to hip height, or as high as possible. Repeat on the other side.
“Poor pelvic control can also lead to poor ankle and foot control, leading to excess stress on the tissues of the feet,” says Yuen. “This exercise helps strengthen the pelvis.”
How to: Lie face-up with your arms extended toward ceiling, directly over your shoulders, and knees bent 90 degrees over hips, calves parallel to floor. Hold a Swiss ball between your knees and hands. Keeping shoulders down and feet flexed, engage your core and extend your right arm and left leg away from you, while keeping the Swiss ball in place with your opposite foot and hand. Tap heel to floor and return to center. Immediately repeat on the opposite side
“The side plank targets the lateral muscles of the trunk and hip that prevent rotation, and improve single-leg stance stability,” says Yuen.
How to: Lie on your left side with your legs straight and your right leg stacked on top of your left. Rest your weight on your left forearm and the outside edge of your left foot, and lift your hips off the ground. Your elbow should be directly beneath your shoulder, and your body should forms a straight line from your neck to your ankles.
Find a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball, place it on the ground, put your foot on top of it, and gently move the ball around the sole of your foot. “Light massage to the plantar fascia helps with pain reduction, increasing circulation, and restoring mobility,” says Yuen.
Grab your foam roller and hit the mat to roll out both calves. “Foam rolling the calves helps with blood-flow return, reducing stiffness, and pain associated with tender points,” says Yuen.
Give the glutes a much-needed stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Keeping the knee bent, cross one ankle over your opposite thigh. To feel an even greater stretch, pull your bottom leg towards your body. “This stretch reduces hip tightness and helps with lower-body blood flow,” says Lombardo.
Source: Women’s Health Mag