It’s been a while since my last tip so it’s about time I got started again, the following set of tips are on the Running Foot. Each foot has 20 muscles that keep the shape of your foot and work together to move the 26 bones and 33 joints. All in all, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments work together to make sure that your first foot strike is the start of a great run.
Tip No 1 – Change your mind set about your feet. As runners the time and care we occasionally give to our bodies is restricted to a good stretch, a muscle soak, and the odd massage, but we forget about our feet. Look after your feet, give them a good soak with some oils and salts. Massage them and stretch them regularly. Care for your feet and they will give you great service for as long as you run. Its stands to reason that they are the first contact with the ground, so they should enjoy priority care.
Tip No 2 – Balance – While there are many exercises to do with the foot, one of the most important ones is balancing. Learning to balance effortlessly will improve ankle stability and as the foot works to keep balance, it’s structure will become stronger too. First step in becoming better at balancing, brush your teeth balancing on one foot at a time. Balance on one leg for 1 minute and then change over for the next minute, as it gets easier add difficulty i.e. close your eyes, add a foam base. The great thing is that it takes no more time than usual. Once you are proficient at ‘Teeth Brushing Balance’ add balancing to your other training sessions. More exercises to follow.
Tip No 3 – The Big Toe!!!! Why all the exclamations? The Big Toe or Hallux is one of the most important parts of the foot, especially with regard to running. It has an enormous role to play in balance and stabilizes the foot all the way from foot strike to toe off. It essentially creates a base of support along with the inside ball and outside ball of your foot. As your foot comes into contact with the ground, it pronates and rolls inwards to absorb the 2-3 times your body weight. While stabilizing your foot the big toe prevents it from over pronating and falling inward and allows the correct loading of the Plantar Fascia. Now for the role of the big toe in the last part of stance phase, the toe off or push off. The big toe extends enough to prevent the foot from rolling inward and off the side of the foot, providing a strong push-off and the beginning of an economical swing phase. This small appendage makes a big difference to you being able to run economically and with a lower injury risk. Make sure that your Big Toe is doing job it’s supposed to be doing, running on an injured big toe will severely hamper your running form and result in injury.
Tip No 4 – After the last tip I got some questions on how to improve big toe flexibility. This tip is on foot exercises to do to strengthen all your toes and your foot structure and also improve ankle stability. Lets start with toe yoga, this a great way to improve foot flexibility while strengthening it’s structure at the same time. Toe yoga takes your toes through a series of flexing and extending movements. Watch the video below to see some Toe Yoga exercises.
Another great way to strengthen your feet is with balance exercises. A great way to start is to simply brush your teeth while balancing on one foot, do this for a minute and then change feet. As you get stronger you will add complexities such as closing your eyes or add an uneven/softer surface. Add balance to your everyday training, before every workout, you will be amazed at how much stronger your feet become and the improvements to your ankle stability.
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