Many people stretch before and after they exercise, but the feet are often left out of these warm-up and cool-down routines. This is ironic since most workouts include added stress and strain on the feet. Just like the muscles of the arms and legs need to be stretched to prevent injury, so do the muscles of the feet.

All stretches are not created equally. There are exercises that help to reduce pain and prevent injury among others. Choosing the right routine for your needs will help you to put your best foot forward, and keep your foundation strong.

My feet hurt. Will stretches help?

Yes, stretching is a great way to find temporary relief for hurting feet. Many people suffer from heel pain that is related to plantar fasciitis. This tissue runs along the sole of the foot from the heel to the toes, and can become inflamed. The ankles are another area that can benefit from a good stretch. Here are a few stretches to try if your feet and ankles are aching:

Step Stretch—This exercise works the whole foot, and only requires a step. Stand on the step with your heels off and toes on it. Now let your heels go down, hold for about 15 seconds, and then return to your original position. Complete three or four reps for a great overall stretch.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch—Find a comfortable spot on the floor, and take a seat. Now, bend one knee, and hold your toes. Bend the toes back and hold for about 15 seconds.

Ankle circles—Your feet have many tendons and muscles, so stretch them by sitting on the floor and making circles with your ankle while it is slightly raised. Rotate both ways, and do this at least five times on both feet.

Please note that if your feet hurt more during stretching, you should stop.

I’m concerned about injuring my feet and ankles. Are there stretches to help prevent injury?

Yes, preventative stretching is a great way to keep your feet in tip-top shape and reduce the likelihood of injury. Some of the most popular require only a towel and a golf or tennis ball.

Foot Roll—Sit on a chair, and place a golf or tennis ball on the floor. Roll the ball around the floor using the sole of your feet. This is a great way to massage the feet without paying for an expensive spa appointment.

Towel Stretch—Start by sitting on the floor with legs outstretched. Loop a towel around your toes while holding onto the ends, and gently pull your toes toward you. Three repetitions, holding for between fifteen and thirty seconds, are recommended.

Towel Lifts—This time drop the towel on the floor, and use your toes to grab it and pick it up off of the floor. Do five reps for each foot.

Toe Stretch—Try this stretch while you’re sitting with your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your toes out as much as you can, hold, and then relax them. Complete ten reps.

Remember, don’t forget your feet when exercising. Just doing a few simple stretches can help to keep your feet in great shape. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort, call the office of podiatrist Lawrence Kales to make an appointment today. With convenient locations in Hudson, FL and Spring Hill, FL, our friendly staff looks forward to serving you.