Pedicures and foot baths may make your feet look and feel pretty, but stretching the arch of your feet will improve how you move. Pronation refers to the natural rolling movement of your foot when you walk or run, where the arch of your foot collapses to absorb shock. Some people can have over-pronation, or flat feet, or under-pronation, or high arches. In either case, it can lead to plantar fasciitis, which is a painful condition in your heel or the bottom of your feet. Stretching and massaging your arches will allow you to waltz throughout your day with less pain or no pain.
Standing Calf Stretch
Put a 1-foot-long half foam roller about 2 feet away from a wall. Put your hands against the wall.
Put your left foot between the space between the roller and the wall and your right foot. Put the ball of your right foot on the roller with your heel on the floor.
Bend your right knee slightly to stretch your calves and heel tendon. Keep your posture tall and do not slouch.
Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths into your belly. Do not bounce. Switch feet position and repeat the stretch on your left calf.
Active Supine Leg Stretch
Lie on the floor on your back and grab the back of your right knee with both hands. Bring your knee close to your ribs.
Exhale slowly as you extend your right knee and flex your right foot to your face.
Hold the stretch for 2 to 3 seconds and bend your knee back to the starting position. Repeat the movement pattern for eight to 10 reps on each leg.
- Stretch to Win; Ann and Chris Frederick
- Sports Injury Clinic: Plantar Fasciitis Exercises
- Anatomy Trains; Thomas Myers
- Massage the arch of your foot by gently rubbing it with your thumbs in circles or with a massage ball. For the latter, place your arch of your foot on top of the massage ball and gently roll on top of it in circles. Massage therapist and author Thomas Myers recommends that you stretch not only your feet and calves but also your gluteal muscles and back. These muscle groups are connected to your lower legs and feet by fasciae and nerves. Stretching and moving these muscles can influence the tissue mobility of your feet. Sample stretches include the Downward Dog and supine cross-legged hip stretch.
- If you have plantar fasciitis or pain in your feet and ankles, check with your health-care provider between performing any exercises on your own. Stretching too much and too fast can cause a stretch reflex, which is the involuntary contraction of your muscles to prevent them from tearing, according to flexibility specialist Ann Frederick, coauthor of "Stretch to Win." This causes your muscles and joints to become sensitive to touch and pressure, reducing your ability to stretch.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.