Stretching Your Feet
Debilitating foot pain is a problem for many people. But just as stretching the torso can help alleviate back pain, stretching the feet can also alleviate existing problems and prevent future ones.
The feet carry the entire weight of the human body all day and can easily get strained from overexertion. Persistent sharp pain and cramping in the feet are common problems. Foot pain/problems can result from any number of causes, and in many cases, pain may be eased without medication or doctor visits. Of course, it is always a good idea to rule out any serious medical issues first by visiting a podiatric physician.
Stretching may help relax the feet and alleviate pain at any time, but it is especially important before heavy aerobic exercise in order to avoid painful cramps or straining muscles in the feet. Stretches should be performed slowly and deliberately, without forceful pulling. Each stretch should be held for several seconds, and then relaxed.
A great way to stretch and loosen up the foot muscles while sitting is to cross one leg over the other and pull the toes carefully back without overextending. Start by resting the left ankle on the right knee. With the left hand, gently flex the left foot by pulling back on the toes. Do not pull too hard, just hard enough to feel the stretch in the arch of the foot. Then point the toes of the left foot as far as you can. Rotate the motion of pointing with pulling back on the toes. This should relax and stretch the muscles on the bottom and top of each foot. Doing this stretch 10 - 20 times should bring relief. Repeat the whole process for the other foot by resting the right ankle on the left knee.
A stretch that focuses on the often injured Achilles tendon involves standing and facing a wall, with your arms out and hands flat against the wall. Step back with one foot, keeping it flat against the floor. Move the other leg forward and lean toward the wall. You should feel a stretch through the back of your leg and Achilles tendon, but do not push yourself too much. Stop when you feel the stretching sensation and hold for 30 seconds. Do 10 repetitions with each foot.
Stretching the feet is especially important for athletes and those taking part in aerobic exercise. But it can also help anyone experiencing foot pain caused by poorly fitting shoes, plantar fasciitis, or standing and/or walking for hours at a time. Individuals who tend to their feet by regularly stretching every day should be able to minimize foot pain and prevent new problems from arising.