It is challenging to walk with ease without strength in the toes. After the ankle joints, the joints of the phalanges are the most important in the foot. The toes propel us forward as we ‘toe off’. Without strength and mobility in the toes, walking comfortably and efficiently is difficult.
Almost all the muscles in the foot are involved with moving the toes, so the exercise I want to share here manages to strengthen and stretch pretty well every muscle in the foot, as well as the toes.
This exercise stretches the muscles and tendons on the dorsal side of the foot and lower leg and strengthens the muscles and tendons of the plantar surface – 14 in total.
The exercise is simple and one of the most important things you can do for the health of your feet (after proper selection of shoes). I hope you will be motivated to incorporate it into your own daily routine and teach your clients. It can be performed while sitting on the couch watching television; no need to set apart any designated time of day to do.
All you do is place some small rubber or silicone balls or marbles (about 2.5 cm) on the floor next to the chair you are sitting on. With bare feet, pick up each of the balls with your toes and move to the side. Repeat with other foot. Aim to pick up about 10 balls with each foot.
The other option is to place a towel on the floor beneath your feet, with a small weight on the far side. Using your toes, pull the weighted end of the towel towards you numerous times.
You will see your toes ‘scrunch up’ as you perform either of those exercises. Work to engage all of the digits. The action of picking up the balls/scrunching the towel is stretching the dorsal tissues and strengthening the plantar tissues, and increasing the mobility, strength and flexibility of the joints in the phalanges and metatarsals.
Simple – so let’s do this!