I’ve got a LOT of videos of foot exercises in various places, and I thought I’d make it easy for you to find the exercise you are looking for and put them all in one spot. Scroll down to find a brief description of the exercises and the link.
Top of Foot Stretch:
This is great if you lack dorsiflexion (i.e., tight calves) because the front of your leg can be working overtime. Also good for the flexors of the foot’s sole (arch muscles) as it shortens them passively. Don’t be surprised if they cramp on you!
Going up and down hills requires some ankle and foot mobility and strength that you can train for on various slopes. Going sideways requires a movement in the foot called Inversion and Eversion; the foot is tilted sideways relative to the leg.
Inversion/Eversion exercise you can do on your back with a yoga block, book etc: https://www.instagram.com/p/B19OgHkBYg7/
A video showing going straight up a gentler hill. This video talks about knees and hips but it also requires mobility of the ankle to go uphill:
Can be done in the studio (in a chair or on the floor) to prepare for climbing hills, or just to assess the movement and mobilize the sub tarsal joints and extrinsic muscles of the foot/ankle.
A longer video with more direction on ankle circling can be find here:
When you move your ankles are you also moving your toes? This happens a lot in walking and you might notice it if your toe nails wear out the top of your shoes. Try this video to see if you can separate the movements of the toes and ankles:
Tired of doing circles? Try Figure 8s or Infinity signs instead!
The ability to spread the toes apart uses muscles between the toes and bones of the foot. If you wear shoes a lot of the time, particularly tight, constricting or stiff shoes, it might be a while since your toes enjoyed this movement. This might be good to try.
Similarly, you can do this exercise with just the big toe. Especially if you have bunions, you will find this very difficult as the Abductor Hallux muscle is weak and even in the wrong position to make the big toe move. It can take a lot of practice to find it, but it’s important to keep trying.
Make a Rock Box:
If you would like to make an inexpensive rock box to help mobilize your feet while you stand at the sink, counter or at your standing workstation part of the time, here is the video for you!
If you have been shown the exercise that uses a thick elastic around the big toes to pull them apart, you owe it to yourself to watch this video. I have a whole 2 hour course on Bunions and I can show you the safe way to do this exercise here:
Big Toe Flexion:
Another big toe exercise is flexion of the two joints of the big toe separately:
Toe Abduction and Adduction:
Moving the toes towards and away from each other – yes, there are muscles in your feet that spread the toes apart and move them together. You’ll be surprised how hard this can be, because we don’t usually prioritize these kinds of skills. However, your feet need to move in all the ways they are meant to in order for those tiny muscles and joints to get their blood and oxygen supply and maintain their health all life long:
Toe Lifts – or Scales:
Lifting each toe individually can be an exercise in frustration! But keep trying, then you can impress all your friends:
Flattened transverse arch? Hammertoes? This one is for you!
Mobilizing the Metatarsals:
These are the long bones in the foot that the toe bones attach to. They can be squeezed together by your shoes and the muscles and nerves between them suffer (neuromas!). Here’s a nice way you can massage some movement back into this area:
The next series of bones up the foot are the tarsal bones, which articulate with the metatarsals. Here’s a nice way to continue with that massage!
Abduction/Adduction of the foot with Dorsiflexion:
Another great one for the ankle/foot and extrinsic muscles of the foot/leg.
Also called the Short Foot exercise, where you contract the muscles that create the arches in the foot to bring the heel forward (or the ball of the foot backwards). A great one if you’ve found after a pregnancy (or several) or wearing a cast for a while your foot has “grown” – also great for general foot strength!
This is a fun way to get the foot’s inchworm muscles to work: use a ball!
Here’s a before/after picture of how I rehabbed my foot’s arches after a trimalleolar fracture of the ankle and 13 weeks immobilized: