Remember those gym classes in junior high and high school? Back in the day, a gym teacher was always a pumped-up fitness jock who took themselves and exercise very seriously. You, on the other hand, were just there to hang out with friends and hopefully, not be chosen last for any of the teams. Surprisingly, it was probably there that you developed a lifelong flirtation with exercise. One thing we weren’t taught in those classes is the importance of stretching for healthy feet. For athletes and moderate exercisers alike, (even if you just walk a mile a day), the benefits of moving provide a big payoff in the health lottery. Yet to keep mobility, you must be mindful of how you treat your feet, and prepare them a lifetime of movement.
Stretching For Healthy Feet
One of the most overlooked benefits of stretching is foot health. We demand a lot from our feet and use them extensively every single day. According to the College of Podiatry, “a person will walk an estimated 150,000 miles in their lifetime“, roughly the equivalent of walking around the world six times! All that stress of carrying you around takes its toll and puts your feet at special risk for injuries or inflammation. Thus the importance of stretching for healthy feet.
Some common foot problems are Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and many others. Improper footwear is also a big culprit in foot problems and pain. Most foot exercises are simple and easy to do and increase the range of motion in the feet. They say that “age makes us all equal” and that is nowhere truer than foot health. The feet are a marvel and contain 26 bones, 42 muscles, 33 joints and 50 ligaments and when healthy, work like a well-oiled machine to get you where you are going.
The importance of stretching as we age
Exercise philosophy has come a long way, and we now understand that stretching is an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. The “warm up” as stretching is known, keeps the muscles flexible, healthy, and strong and we need that to maintain a range of motion in our joints. If we don’t stretch our muscles shorten and become tight and when that happens, one wrong move can spell trouble. As we age, this flexibility can be the difference between an active or inactive daily lifestyle. Flexible muscles help you bend down to pick up that package, play with your grandchildren, or catch your dog as it runs away from you. Stretching improves circulation and increases blood flow to your muscles. It also improves posture by keeping your muscles loose, and good posture is important in keeping aches and pain away and preventing falls as you get older.
Some tips to successful stretching for healthy feet include:
- Focusing on major muscles groups such as the feet, calves, hips, back, shoulders and neck
- Perform exercises such as:
- Calf and heel stretches
- Towel stretch
- Toe curls
- A yoga pose called Virasana or the “hero’s pose”
- You can Contact Us for additional guidance and stretching exercises
- Don’t bounce. Bouncing can tear muscles and cause tight muscles
- If it hurts, stop. Pain means you are pushing too far
- Hold stretches for 30 seconds
- Relax and breathe deeply as you stretch, take your time
- Make this time a daily meditation and an important part of a healthy lifestyle
This article is part of the Discussion Series on Running Injuries. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or you can Make An Appointment to see Dr. Caruso.