Six Pack Feet! Foot strength – Worth the Effort?
A common question that is often asked as a Sports Med Podiatrist is can I re-shape or re-form my flat arch or foot with foot strength exercises? The clear answer is NO you cannot. This is because the general shape of your feet are predetermined for you….much like the colour of your eyes or the size of your hands.
To help understand this there are (normally) 26 bones and 33 joints that comprise each foot and it is the orientation of these two that determine basic shape of your feet. Other influences on foot shape include soft tissue and joint flexibility which allow an arch, with the aid of body weight transfer and gravity, to lower towards the ground. The soft tissue and joint flexibility can be further influenced over time by an increase in body weight and other physiological factors such as certain hormones and various systemic conditions affecting the “stretchiness” of particular tendons and ligaments that support the arch.
Now all is not lost! Flat feet are a normal variation and most people will go through their whole lives without too many issues. Our feet are actually designed to pronate (roll-in or flatten) a little bit when we move to help adapt to different ground surfaces and to absorb shock.Flat feet are a normal variation and most people go through their whole lives without too many issues. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
What can be done to help decrease the likely hood of problems for all foot types, especially those who do pronate excessively and/or are involved in repetitive running activities, are foot strength exercises. These can be used to help strengthen the intrinsic muscles in your feet so they can aid resisting the bending of the arch in response large ground reaction forces, especially when we run on hard surfaces. For example when we jog on bitumen we are getting approximately 4 to 5x our body weight through each foot!
Try including these two basic foot strength exercises into your weekly strength routine as a start. An easy way to incorporate them without setting aside extra time is to do these while you are watching TV, paying the bills and/or while eating breakfast or dinner.
- Foot Crawls – while sitting with your backside at the edge of a chair, start with your heels under your knees and begin to crawl your feet forward with your toes. After doing app. 5 to 6 scrunches with your toes slide your feet back to the starting position and repeat over 3 to 4 minutes.
- Toe Grabs – while sitting with your backside at the edge of a chair, start with your heels under your knees and squeeze all of your toes into the ground. Hold the squeeze for 10sec as hard as you can. After the 10sec you move into an active rest where you are wiggling your toes like they are playing the piano and spreading the toes apart.
For more information or to help with your persistent foot pain please call POGO physio and ask to speak to Aleks the Podiatrist.