Though feet are your foundation when it comes to running or any other physical activity, we give very little thought to strengthening them. Runners usually focus on their upper body, lower body, and core muscles while training, leaving the feet calloused and prone to injuries. Your feet help to transfer the impact from your upper and lower body to the ground. As your heel strikes the ground when you run, it acts as a shock absorption pad that takes the impact head-on and eases up the stress that is transferred to the calves, hamstring, and knees. If your feet are not strong enough then this can lead to injuries not only in your feet but will also give rise to chronic conditions such as runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis.
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.
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.
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.
- Natural surfaces
Running on natural surfaces like sand and grass 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.
Adopt these exercises into your pre-run ritual and do them twice a week if you want to up your running efficiency.