The Short foot exercise
The purpose of short foot is to strengthen and activate the intrinsic muscles in the feet. It was popularized by a well-known physiotherapist called Vladamir Janda. This is a hard movement to do if you have never done it before or have dysfunction in the feet. From my own experience, it takes a while to get the movement. Practice makes perfect though so don’t give up. I have included a good video here with a great description of the exercise. It is much easier to visualize it than try to write down how to do it.
The towel scrunch
While sitting in a chair, with your knees bent, spread a small towel in front of you on the ground. Using only your toes, repeatedly grab and release the towel, drawing it toward the base of the chair. A smooth floor works best for this. The act of gripping and pulling really gets the muscles in the feet moving.
To make it harder, you can add a small weight to the towel to add more resistance.
The feet have a really high concentration of nerves and sensors. One way of stimulating these nerves and help solidify their connection to the brain and at the same time work some of the muscles in the feet is with balance training. Here is how to do it:
- Start with barefeet.
- With good posture, looking straight ahead, simply stand on one foot.
- Try to stand on the one leg for 30 seconds.
- Switch feet and try the other foot.
When you stand on one foot you will often notice the foot begin to move and wiggle, as those muscles activate. You may also note that the arch will often raise into a more stable position.
There are lots of ways to make the exercise more challenging. Here are some simple ones:
- Do a mixture of eyes open and eyes closed (losing the visual input will make the exercise a lot harder).
- Stand on a less solid surface like a piece of foam or a pillow.
- Stand on a wobble board or Bosu ball.
- Balance on one leg whilst doing simple squats, deadlifts etc.
- Photo credit: Flawlessfeet.com
- Towel scrunch image: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/towel-curl
- Balance Image: http://coloradoinmotion.com/are-you-ready-to-be-a-minimalist-runner/