Being able to control your foot and ankle is one very important step to improving your balance, coordination, and performance while decreasing your risk for injury. Your foot is what connects you to the ground and just about everything you do on a daily basis, and in the vast majority of athletics, starts with the foot being placed on the ground. If you have a poor connection to the ground you are more likely to develop movement compensations further up the chain and you won’t move as efficiently or as powerfully.
While the suboptimal efficiency and power may only impact your peak performance, the poor movement patterns you may develop due to compensations increase your risk of injury or pain. You can work to avoid these unwanted injuries and pain while increasing your movement efficiency by improving the strength and function of your foot. The following exercises can get you started, they should be done without socks or shoes as you need to feel your foot in contact with the ground and they can be done standing or seated.
Warning: Foot cramps may occur!
Start with your feet flat on the ground then extend your toes up off the ground as high as you can, hold for a few seconds and then return to starting position.
Start with your feet flat on the ground then extend your toes off the ground and spread them out as wide as you can, hold for a few seconds and then return to starting position.
Start with your feet flat on the ground then curl your toes, make this more challenging by standing on a towel with a weight at the end and use your toes to scrunch up the towel.
Big Toe Extension and Depression
Start with your feet flat on the ground and then extend just the big toe, don’t let the other four lift off! Return the big toe to the ground and then press it down into the ground without curling it.
Start with your feet flat on the ground then turn the bottoms of your feet towards each other, rolling to the outer edge of the feet. Don’t let the knees rotate!
Start with your feet flat on the ground then turn the bottoms of your feet away from each other, rolling to the inner edge of the feet. Don’t let the knees rotate!