Nathan Ng, a practicing Chiropractor from Trifecta Wellness & Lougheed Wellness presented on the benefits of exercising our feet. The foot plays an important role in the gait and movement that we perform. Stability starts from the ground up, where the foot is what provides us stability by its contact to the ground. The foot can be considered a ‘tripod’ with 3 points of contact or weight-bearing. This includes the base of the 1st metatarsal, the base of the 5th metatarsal, and the heel. An individual’s foot shape can greatly affect how their weight is distributed in which stability can be affected throughout the lower kinetic chain. Some individuals may present with flat feet or high arches, which have this impact on the kinetic chain. An example of how flat feet can affect a person’s stability is the overpronation of the foot, leading to internal rotation and adduction of the femur. This causes more weight-bearing through the inside of the foot.
Thus, it can be very beneficial to take care of our feet. There are ways to help improve mobility and balance through the foot that promotes optimal function and alignment.
How can this be accomplished?
- Soft tissue release
- Improving mobility and movement through the foot
- Balance and control through the foot
In short: Tenderize, Mobilize and Stabilize
Nathan has provided great tips and exercises for creating a routine for the foot. These include the following:
- Having your shoes off, which will let you work directly on the foot
- Know your body and limits, working within thresholds that are tolerable/manageable for you
- Don’t forget to breathe!
Below is a snippet from Nathan’s presentation and can be used as a guide of the regions of the foot that we can ‘tenderize’ and improve soft tissue flexibility:
Big Toe Mobility
An important aspect of the foot that is commonly overlooked is the big toe. Big toe mobility is important for function in the foot where 65 deg of big toe extension and 10 degrees of dorsiflexion is needed for appropriate gait and running. Below are two conditions that occur in the big toe
Hallux Limitus: limited toe extension leading to limited mobility through the foot and big toe. Can lead to discomfort at the big toe joint especially when walking or running.
Hallux Rigidus: is the further onset of hallux rigidus, where over time the big toe becomes extremely difficult to bend and is very stiff. Leads to the formation of bone spurs and potential arthritis through the big toe.
Exercises to improve toe mobility include:
- Big toe mobilizationsAssisted
- Foot Flexion/Extension
- Big toe flexion/extension (Quadruped, Kneeling Lunge)
- Forefoot/Rearfoot Twist