It’s not just your body that needs TLC after a run. Go the distance with these therapeutic foot stretches
Did you know that an incredible 25 percent of all the bones in your body are found below your ankle? No, we didn’t either! It’s just one reason that it’s so important to take care of your feet – especially if you’re a runner. Despite carrying us through our life and workouts, our feet are often over-looked and neglected. Cue the foot problems most of us experience at some point, from dry skin and athletes’ foot to bunions and foot injuries.
STRETCH IT OUT
If you’re a regular runner, it’s likely you probably give your feet a bit of TLC, cutting nails, buffing skin and treating blisters. But there’s one key tactic you may be forgetting… stretching. Yup, it’s not just your glutes and calves that need regular flexibility work.
‘For runners and anyone training regularly, stretching for the feet is crucial,’ says Tracy Byrne, podiatrist and clinical director for Footner (myfootner.co.uk). ‘The larger muscles and soft tissues of the leg are connected to the structures of the foot, so it’s crucial these are stretched, too!’ People with the healthiest, most supple feet are those who regularly go barefoot and exercise their feet, says Byrne. ‘Studies show that those who regularly stretch and mobilize their feet have better flexibility and mobility, stronger feet, fewer deformities and fewer complaints than those who don’t. So with that in mind, it’s time to get your stretch on!’
Aside from helping avoid injury and problems, doing specific stretching and foot exercises and improving your awareness of your feet, will bring added bonuses. It helps develop the muscles and ligaments of your lower limbs, improves your ability to spread your toes (useful if you do yoga), naturally strengthens the arches of the foot and improves your proprioception. ‘Evidence shows that people who habitually stretch, have denser muscles on the soles of their feet, greater agility than those who don’t stretch, and demonstrate a wider range of hip movement and more flexibility of the gluteal and hamstring muscles,’ says Byrne.