By: Dr. Terry Weyman
After seeing a few good injuries to several athletes feet in the past few months, I started thinking about ways to strengthen their feet to combat these injuries. If your feet are stronger, they can withstand more forces before having any complications. With muscle thickness you gain added strength and a secondary structural barrier to absorb and disperse impacting forces. When athletes train, walk, ride and run in shoes/boots, the musculature in their feet isn’t being adequately trained. By exercising your feet, not only will you reduce injuries but you will improve upon your balance and overall mobility.
One of the best ways to strengthen your feet is by running in sand, such as a beach or even the soft desert sand, barefoot. By running in the soft sand barefoot, your toes and feet are required to flex and extend more than when your feet are confined to footware. Also, since the ground is soft, your arch is protected since the ground will support all anatomical angles of the foot. If you don’t have access to a beach or soft sand try these basic exercises. You will be surprised how much more challenging basic movements are, when performed barefoot. Even simple lunges will become challenging since you are not use to having your feet activate, grip and stabilize. When starting out, keep your barefoot movements basic and perform on a soft mat to aid in biomechanical support to your feet. A typical warm-up might include the forward lunge, backward lunge, and even a simple heel-toe walk, making your foot strike the heel first and then roll up on the ball of the foot. Once this is done easily, add a simple carioca or shuffle forward and back then side to side.
By adding barefoot work to your weekly routine, you will build up those little guys that carry you around all day and in return, you just might even get some happy feet! If you REALLY want to make them happy, get them some compression socks to wear after your workouts.
Until next time, Dr. Terry