Do you ever strengthen your feet?
Apr 30, 2019
Feet, we all feel differently about them, but no one can deny their importance!
Ever notice how the structure of the foot mirrors the arch of a bridge (Figure 1)? During walking or running our arches cushion the force created from the impact with every step and distributes it equally across the joints in the feet to manage it as efficiently as possible (Figure 2).
Passive structures, like the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia (Figure 3), also act to support the arch when lengthened and loaded. For example, the plantar fascia, which is attached to the bottom ends of the arch, tightens when your heel comes off the ground when walking and increases the height of the arch (Figure 4). This is known as the windless mechanism.
We also have several small muscles surrounding our arches that are all very active during walking, and more so during running. Current research has shown that strengthening these muscles with the ‘short foot exercise’ (Figure 4) can have many benefits. At least 4 weeks of training these muscles with the short foot exercise has shown to improve arch height in people with low arches2, dynamic balance3, and proprioception (position sense of arch)4. These benefits could be helpful in several musculoskeletal conditions including ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and flat feet deformities.
Have you ever tried strengthening these muscles? Many people are unaware of their presence and the benefits of training them to not only the conditions noted above but to healthy athletes and runners. To find how to perform this exercise properly and if it could help you, a physical therapy assessment is a great place to start! Physiotherapists can assess and create personalized treatment programs for several conditions affecting your feet.
Visit your nearest Active Physio Works location for an assessment and treatment from a qualified Physical Therapist with locations in Edmonton, St. Albert and Fort Saskatchewan or call 780-458-8505 to book an appointment today!
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