A tree without roots can’t stand. If you’re physically active, you need to take care of your feet. Your feet have so many muscles in them and are connected to the rest of your body. If you’ve ever tried reflexology, you’d understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body.
From my experience, when my feet and ankles are healthy I perform my best. There are many benefits to having strong feet and ankles.
Benefits of Strong Feet and Ankles
Better Balance: This one is pretty obvious. When your feet and ankles are strong, your balance will be better. This is important in every fitness activity that involves standing. When your balance is off, your other muscles will have to work even harder. This will make the activity you’re doing more difficult than necessary.
Injury Prevention: Playing any sport with weak feet and ankles is a recipe for disaster. In most sports you’re constantly changing directions and putting your ankles in awkward positions. When your feet and ankles are strong, these awkward positions won’t be an issue to you. I already mentioned how other parts of your body have to work even harder when your feet and ankles are weak. This can lead to overcompensation of those muscles. Overcompensation of muscles often lead to injuries. If you’ve ever tried to squat with a bad ankle you’d understand. It sucks!
Stronger Nervous System: There are several nerves in your feet that connect with the rest of your body, including your brain. When my feet have been strong and healthy, other parts of my body were too.
Feet and Ankle Strengthening Exercises
Tennis ball, wall throws: This is one of my favorite feet and ankle strengthening exercises. To do this exercise, stand on one leg and use your opposite hand to throw a tennis ball off a wall. Once the ball bounces off the wall, you’ll catch it with the same hand. Do this for 50 reps and then switch feet and hands.This will also make your nervous system more efficient because your brain is working hard to keep both sides of your body in sync while doing the exercise. You should do this barefoot.
Barefoot Walking: One of the easiest ways to strengthen your ankles and feet is by walking barefoot. Go to an open grassy field, take your shoes off, and start walking. You may get some funny looks but the benefits are worth it. Barefoot walking has helped me recover from a previous ankle injury. Not only will you feet and ankles get stronger and healthier but you’ll also feel better because all the nerves in your feet will be stimulated. I’ll go more in-depth on barefoot walking benefits in a future post.
Standing Yoga Poses: I’m a big fan of yoga for physical health. It’s something I do several times a week. Standing yoga poses like the Warrior 3 and the Tree Pose will definitely help with ankle and foot strength. If you want to make them even more challenging, try these poses with your eyes close. This actually makes your feet and ankles work harder to stabilize.
If you haven’t been taking care of your feet and ankles then you’re missing out on several performance benefits. Stronger feet and ankles could be the missing link to your training program that moves you significantly closer to your goals. Give some of these exercises a try and reap the benefits.