When it comes to training, runners focus on upper body, lower body and core muscle strength training, but very little thought is given to strengthening the feet. Feet are your foundation and the reason the force from your body is transferred to the ground, which is why your feet need to be strong consistently in order for you to avoid any injury.

In order to move with better balance, control, and power, strong feet are needed but it’s important to strengthen them gradually. This is a long term exercise plan, one not to be hurried with. And here is a list of exercises that will help you get your feet strong, make you a better, more balanced and powerful runner.

And by that we mean those smooth, non-painful rocks that people use for landscaping. The changing and shifting surface of these rocks will help activate all of the proprioceptive nerves that exist under your feet. Many of these nerves connect to your lower back, but most of these nerve endings remain dormant with most people – and can lead to back pain. Which basically means that if you have weak feet, chances are you will suffer from back pain at some point in your life.

Take a resistance band and fasten it to a secure point, and place the other end of the band around the top of your foot right below your toes. From a seated position, with legs extended straight on the floor, create tension on the band and pull your foot to your shin.

Drop your training volume down quite a bit before going barefoot
Drop your training volume before going barefoot

use a flat board placed on something to create an angle (a rolled towel or a yoga block can work well). Position the slant board near a wall or door-frame so you can lean slightly forward and place your feet on the board with your toes facing up. With a slight lean forward perform calf raises, holding the top position to create maximum extension of your toes and mindfully engage the bottoms of your feet.

No shoes
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your feet is to simply get them out of shoes more often. Begin slowly at first so you don’t make your feet too sore. Also, make sure you do this at home and not at work. We don’t want you getting fired over trying to strengthen your feet.

Run in sand or grass
This helps improve the joint articulation within your feet, all the while increasing range of motion and strength. It also helps you get used to the different muscular tension offered by such surfaces. Consistency is key, so remember to work those feet and up your running game.

We hope these simple exercises are easy enough for you to do twice a week, or adopt it into your pre-run ritual when you want to up your running efficiency.

Become a wiser, injury-free runner by signing up for FirstRun’s on-demand injury prevention and management service RunDoctor. To know more, click here.

Main Image: Mark Evans | CC BY ND 2.0

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