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Foot Health Part 2: Foot Strength

Hello and happy wintery Wednesday (at least to all the Bend-ites)!

Last week, we looked at how shoes (both fit and width) can impact our overall foot health. This week we want to continue to discuss the importance of prioritizing our feet with exercise.

As we mentioned, we tend to have a wider foot splay when we are kids. Similarly, spending more time barefoot gives our feet more dexterity and strength. As adults, not only can our feet be trapped in too narrow of shoes, we tend to be over-supported. When we provide external stability to our feet (via shoes), our intrinsic foot muscles tend to shut off as they do not need to work as hard to support our feet/ankles. This can lead to long-term foot instability and lack of control.


-In standing, try to isolate lifting ONLY your big toe.

-Next, try to isolate lifting only your four little toes (all at once).

-Last, try to isolate lifting the arch of your foot (think about creating a higher arch without super gripping and curling your toes into the ground)

First Image: Isolated big toe lift Second Image: Isolated little toe lift Third Image: Isolated arch lift

Holy cow, that was hard, right!? Now, if you live with a kiddo under age 7, ask them to do the same; I am guessing it is much easier for them than for you! How do we improve our foot strength? Easy, the test becomes the exercise. My clients know these drills as "happy feet" exercises. Try to integrate these movements into your day while sitting at your desk, brushing your teeth, reading a book,/watching TV. Aim for 2-3 rounds of about 5-10 reps per exercise of the following:

  • Big toe lifts

  • Little toe lifts

  • Arch lifts

  • If these are a challenge initially, you may have to start by holding the toes down that you are not trying to move until you get stronger; that is okay!

If your feet feel extra squished after last week's shoe talk, try out these "YOGA TOES." An excellent way to allow your feet to stretch out and splay at the end of the day. I typically recommend wearing these for 3-5 minutes to start and building up to 20 minutes of wear time (try to avoid walking with them on).

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions if your feet need some TLC. Happy feet, Nicole Todisco MacDonald

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