Are your feet feeling sore again?

Foot pain is common in fact more common than you think…

3 out of 4 Americans experience serious foot problems in their lifetime. Not surprisingly, women have about four times as many foot problems as men. (Source)

Wear the correct shoes, ladies.

Most foot problems,  such as blisters, bunions, corns, calluses, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, hammertoes and athlete’s foot, can develop due to neglect, poor-fitting shoes, age and medicines.  Daily and weekly care tips to avoid and treat with main foot problems were discussed in this previous blog.

Yet sometimes foot pains can be symptomatic of a more serious  condition such as :

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart and circulation problems
  • Nerve disorders
Source

The survey of 1,021 adults found that people with chronic foot pain are likely to have other health problems such as these:

  • 65% Have back pain
  • 59% Eyesight issues
  • 58% Joint pain/arthritis
  • 56% Weight issues
  • 52% Knee pain


But before you get into a panic, some good old exercise can do wonders to relieve and prevent foot pain.

I found some excellent resources written by Kelly Collins that give simple and clear instructions of the best exercises for foot pain. You can get the original articles on Paleo Plan.

Benefits of Foot Exercises

  • Improvement in the flexibility of the toes and ankles.
  • Relieve tightness in the feet and ankles.
  • Protection from movement-related injury.
  • Maintaining balance and alignment of the entire body.
  • Improved circulation.
  • Removal of toxins and excess water that causes tension and swelling.

Kelly Collins recommends that these stretches should be done one to two times daily to relieve your foot pain. You can use a mat, block and a tennis ball.

#1 Plantar Fascia Stretch | 30 sec per side, 2X

plantar-fascia-stretch.jpg
Source: Paleo Plan

This gentle stretch relieves tightness along the bottom of the foot, ankle, and calf.

  1. Place a block on the floor .
  2. Step the ball of your right foot onto the edge of the block, keeping your heel on the ground.
  3. Slowly shift your weight forward over the block to feel a stretch through your calf, ankle, and plantar fascia.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat each side 2X.

#2 Toe Stretch | 30 sec per side, 3X

toe-stretch.jpg

This stretch relieves tightness in the plantar fascia, targeting the area around the top of the foot and toes.

  1. Step the ball of your foot and toes onto the centre of your block.
  2. Lift the heel up high to start to feel a stretch through the toes and plantar fascia.
  3. To deepen the stretch, slowly shift your weight forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch feet. Repeat each side 3X.

#3 Calf Raises | 10 reps per side

calf-raises.jpg

This exercise strengthens the calves and ankles to provide strength and relief to the feet. I personally like this one because it gives very quick relief to foot, leg or ankle tightness or pain. I do it without a block.

  1. Step up onto a block with both feet. Place one hand on a wall for more stability.
  2. Lower your right heel down towards the ground to feel a stretch through your foot and calf.
  3. Then, press up through the ball of your right foot and flex your calf muscle at the top. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch feet.

#4 Tennis Ball Rollout | 60 sec per side

tennis-ball-rollout.jpg

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is an effective way to massage out knots and tension in the bottom of the feet from the comfort of your home or office.

  1. Sit in a chair and place a tennis ball on the floor in front of you.
  2. Begin by placing the arch of your foot on the ball. Apply some pressure to feel the ball releasing tightness in the fascia.
  3. Then, slowly begin to roll your foot over the ball. Roll up toward your toes slowly, pausing whenever you find a tight spot and holding for 30 seconds. Then, slowly roll back down towards your heel, pausing whenever you find a tight spot and holding for 30 seconds.
  4. After you’ve completed one foot, switch sides.

#5 Heel Pump | 60 sec per side

heel-pump.jpg

This exercise strengthens the calf and ankle to release tension in the heel.

  1. Sit in a chair and place a ball on the floor in front of you. Lean your forearms onto your thighs.
  2. Place your heel on top of the tennis ball and the ball of your foot on the floor. Use the resistance of your forearms on your thighs as you pump your heel up and down on the ball.
  3. Continue for 60 seconds, then release and switch sides.

# 6 Toe Curl with ball| 10 reps per side

toe-curl.jpg

This exercise helps to strengthen your plantar fascia.

  1. Place the ball of your foot up on your tennis ball, keeping your heel on the floor.
  2. Curl your toes around the top of the ball like you are going to try to pick it up.
  3. Squeeze for a moment, then release and spread your toes wide. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch feet.

#7 Point and Flex | 10 reps each direction

Point-and-Flex-10-reps-each-direction.jpg

Pointing the toes stretches the tops of the feet and ankles while flexing the toes stretches the calves, back of the ankles, and the plantar fascia on the bottom of the feet.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Point your feet and toes down to feel a stretch through the top of the feet and ankles.
  3. Flex both feet and toes back towards your shins to feel a stretch through your calves, ankles, and the bottom of the feet.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

#8 Inner Ankle Stretch | 10 reps

Inner-Ankle-Stretch-10-reps.jpg

This stretch relieves tightness in the inner ankle and foot.

  1. Start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you with your feet flexed.
  2. Rotate your feet outward until you feel a nice stretch in the inner ankle and foot. Hold for 3 seconds, then release, turning the soles of your feet forward again.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

#9 Free Form Toe Curls | 5 reps

Toe-Curls-5-reps.jpg

This stretch brings circulation into the toes, helping to relieve swelling and tightness.

  1. Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you, with your feet relaxed.
  2. Scrunch up your toes as tight as you can and hold for a count of 3. Then release and relax them.
  3. Repeat for 5 reps.

#10 Toe Spread | 5 reps

Toe-Spread-5-reps.jpg

This stretch creates space and releases tension from between the toes.

  1. Start with your legs straight out in front of you with your feet relaxed.
  2. Flex your feet, then spread your toes as wide as you can, separating them and holding for a count of 3.
  3. Relax your toes and feet completely.
  4. Repeat for 5 reps.

#11 Inner Ankle Stretch | 10 reps

Inner-Ankle-Stretch-10-reps.jpg

This stretch relieves tightness in the inner ankle and foot.

  1. Start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you with your feet flexed.
  2. Rotate your feet outward until you feel a nice stretch in the inner ankle and foot. Hold for 3 seconds, then release, turning the soles of your feet forward again.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

#12 Toe Curls | 5 reps

Toe-Curls-5-reps.jpg

This stretch brings circulation into the toes, helping to relieve swelling and tightness.

  1. Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you, with your feet relaxed.
  2. Scrunch up your toes as tight as you can and hold for a count of 3. Then release and relax them.
  3. Repeat for 5 reps.

#13 Toe Spread | 5 reps

Toe-Spread-5-reps.jpg

This stretch creates space and releases tension from between the toes.

  1. Start with your legs straight out in front of you with your feet relaxed.
  2. Flex your feet, then spread your toes as wide as you can, separating them and holding for a count of 3.
  3. Relax your toes and feet completely.
  4. Repeat for 5 reps.

#14 Toe Scrunch and Spread | 5 reps

Toe-Scrunch-and-Spread-5-reps.jpg

This stretch combines the curl and spread for the ultimate toe stretching and circulation pulling effect.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and relax your feet.
  2. Scrunch up your toes as tight as possible and hold for 3 seconds.
  3. Spread your toes as wide as you can and hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Repeat 5 times.

#15 Standing Toe Curl | 20 sec

Standing-Toe-Curl-20-sec.jpg

This stretch uses gravity for an added stretch to the tops of the feet and toes.

  1. Stand on an exercise mat.
  2. Pick up your right foot and curl the toes. Then, place the tops of your toes onto the mat.
  3. Gently apply pressure and hold for 20 seconds, feeling the stretch through the tops of your toes.
  4. Switch feet.

#16 Standing Toe Stretch | 20 sec

Standing-Toe-Stretch-20-sec.jpg

This stretch uses gravity to relieve tightness from the bottom of the foot and toes. This is my personal favourite especially when my ankles feel tight.

  1. Begin by standing on a mat. ( optional)
  2. Pick up your right foot, flex the toes back, and then place the ball of your foot down onto the mat.
  3. Gently apply pressure to feel a stretch through the toes. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch sides.

#17 Toe Squat | 20 sec

Toe-Squat-20-sec.jpg

This pose helps to release tight fascia around the toes that can cause pain in the feet.

  1. Start in a standing forward fold with your feet together.
  2. Tent your fingertips on the floor in front of you. Lift your heels, bend your knees, and lower your hips to your heels.
  3. You should feel a nice stretch through the plantar fascia on the bottom of your feet. Hold for 20 seconds.

Conclusion

Long periods of standing and sitting along with lack of awareness and ill-fitting shoe can be the culprit behind a sore aching foot. Medicines can also cause joint pain and foot pain.

Foot pain can throw off the balance of the body and lead to back, ankle, knee, hip or even neck pain.

Foot pains may also signal the presence of a more serious health issue. That is why daily foot care is so important. This includes the exercises suggested by Kelly Collins from Paleo Plan along with massages and a proper foot care routine.

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