health

10 Foot Exercises That Reveal Everything About Your Health

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Our feet carry us everywhere, but they may be just about the most neglected part of the body. Fortunately, we have a few genius foot exercises that will change that for the better!

Your feet are actually a great window into the aches and pains that impact other parts of your body. A lot of body pain can radiate down to the feet and cause discomfort in your tootsies.

By the same token, pain that starts in your feet can have a wide-ranging impact on other parts of your body.

In other words, exercises that strengthen your feet and treat their aches and pains can have a profound impact on the health of your entire body.

There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned workout for helping your feet stay pain free, and helping to solve other aches and pains throughout your muscles and joints.

Scroll through below to learn about the easy foot exercises that you can do right at home to keep your whole body happy.

#1: Toe Stretch

#1: Toe Stretch
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This stretch is great for mobilizing all the joints in your toes and along the arch of your foot, which can get cramped and pulled out of whack by ill-fitting shoes.

Interlace your fingers on  the opposite hand with your toes, and tug gently, rolling your ankle in small semi-circles, then repeat on opposite side.

This motion helps loosen the plantar fascia in your foot and also relaxes all of the joints in your ankle and lower leg to make walking and standing much more comfortable.

#2: Arch Massage

#2: Arch Massage
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Every muscle in your body is linked by an interconnected web of tendons and ligaments. Doing an arch massage on your foot creates a ripple effect that travels up your body, loosening kinked muscles as it goes.

Take your shoes off and roll a tennis ball firmly under your arch while sitting. For a more advanced stretch, try it standing up, putting pressure on one foot at a time.

This pressure relaxes the tight muscles in the arch, while signaling tight muscles in your hamstrings to relax and release. This improves the flexibility in your legs and hips.

#3: Foot Flex

#3: Foot Flex
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Try flexing your feet by spreading out your toes and arching your toes backwards as much as possible.

If your feet can’t do this on their own, use your hands to pull them gently into an arch.

If you’re using your hands, make sure that you don’t stretch your feet to the point of pain.

This exercise strengthens the muscles of the toes, preventing foot spasms, and has important whole-body effects as well.

When you flex your foot, you also strengthen the muscles in your lower legs. This, in turn, strengthens your lower back and lessens lower back pain.

#4: Toe Lift

#4: Toe Lift
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Place your feet firmly on the ground, then lift all your toes up off the ground, without moving your heel or the ball of your foot.

Some people might find this stretch easy, while others will find it tricky and notice that the burn of the stretch runs along their inner arch, from the big toe to the heel.

This stretch pulls at the muscle along the side and front of your calf, strengthening your legs and posture over time.

#5: Foot Rolls

#5: Foot Rolls
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Stand with your feet flat and parallel. Roll one foot onto its outer edge and rest weight lightly to stretch.

This stretch mobilizes the ankle joint to reduce pain around the foot. The stretch also extends up the side of the calf and into the knee to reduce joint pain and stiffness in the major hinging joint of the knee.

Once you’re done with one side, roll over on the other foot and repeat.

#6: Tiptoes

#6: Tiptoes
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Stand on your tip toes for 10 seconds, then slowly release back down to standing. Repeat 10 times.

If you need to, hold on to a countertop or the back of a chair for balance.

This ballet-like exercise is great for more than stretching your feet; it also works by strengthening your lower legs, toning up your core, and improving your balance.

Holding this pose can help align your whole body, which significantly improves muscle pains and backaches.

#7:Toe Tapping

#7:Toe Tapping
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Stand flat on the ground and roll in slightly so that your weight rests on your big toes and inner arches.

Lift all your toes, except the big toe, off the ground.

Now roll to the outer edge and repeat in reverse, leaving your little toes down and picking your big toe up.

What’s the point of this exercise? It teaches your foot to arch if you have bad walking habits and have lost your natural arch.

Flat feet or fallen arches lead to a lot of pain while walking because your feet aren’t correctly spreading the impact of hitting the ground.

Improving your arch improves your gait and allows you to walk longer distances more comfortably.

#8: Point

#8: Point
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Here’s another exercise that will be very familiar to dancers.

Sit comfortably on the ground and stretch your feet out ahead of you.

Put your feet together at the heels like you’re in “first position.”

Bend your knees slightly, if that’s more comfortably.

Now, gently flex your feet to stretch them, then draw both feet into a tight point, while arching your feet. Repeat 10 times.

This point-and-flex motion is good for strengthening your feet and lengthening your legs, but the muscle contraction will also ripple up to your thighs.

#9: Curls

#9: Curls
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Plant both of your feet flat on the ground, then scrunch your toes in as tightly as your can.

Gently release, then repeat 1o times. If it helps, put a towel under your feet to give your toes something to curl around.

These toe-curling exercises might look silly, but they’re actually great for dealing with foot pain, particularly plantar fasciitis, which is common in runners.

Curling your toes and releasing them helps to loosen the muscle tension in the toes and the underside of the foot, and can also improve balance and stability.

#10: Ankle Circles

#10: Ankle Circles
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Place both feet flat on the floor and brace yourself against a counter or chair for balance.

Lift one foot slightly in the air, point the toe, and rotate the ankle in a small tight circle, then repeat with the opposite foot. Do 10 circles on each side.

This exercise loosens all the connective tissue in the ankle joint and strengthens the muscles, which reduces pain in the foot and ankle, and also improves balance and stability.

This exercise is very important for anyone who wants to get in shape and start something, such as running or cycling, and for older folks who have a harder time with balance.

Will you give any of these important foot exercises a shot? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to SHARE these clever moves!