In our last post, we gave you ideas for strengthening your ankles, but did you know that your toes need exercise too? Yes, you read that right! Your toes are designed to help you keep balance and prevent injury, but they are also at risk of injury and deformity if you do not give them proper care. This includes proper hygiene, supportive footwear, and foot exercises that include focus on the toes.
So how exactly can you exercise the toes? The following are examples of toe exercises to keep them healthy and strong:
- Toe position holds: (Hold for at least 5 seconds, and repeat 10 times on each side)
- Tip Toes: While standing, raise the heels to stand on tiptoes. Release the heels down slowly.
- Toe Curls: Also while standing, point the toes straight down to the ground and then curl the toes under so that the tops of the toes are touching the ground. Apply pressure downward to feel a stretch along the tops of the toes and foot.
- Toe Points: While sitting or standing, point the toes out and hold so that the top of your foot aligns with the rest of your leg. (Adding a flex for 5 seconds on release is beneficial to the feet, calves, and shins)
- Toe Spread: While sitting or standing, spread the toes as wide as you can. If you feel like the toes might cramp, stop spreading before you have excess resistance.
- Towel scrunches/Marble moves: While standing, use your toes to grab a small towel, lift it up and put it back down. Be sure to spread your toes wide before each grab. You can also do marble moves, in which you pick up marbles with your toes and put them into a bowl.
- Single Leg Balance: Stand on a thick cushion or foam pillow (so that your feet cannot feel the ground). Lift one leg. Actively use the toes, feet, and ankles to help you balance.
- Downward Facing Dog: Try this yoga position in which your body forms an upside-down “V” shape. Your hands and feet (mostly toes) are on the ground with your backside in the air. Push into your hands so that your body moves away from them. Feel the stretch, especially in the legs and feet as you bend one knee and straighten the other.
- Walking in sand or on smooth gravel: Not only does walking in sand provide exfoliation for the feet, the uneven ground forces you to use all the muscles in the feet. Both sand and smooth gravel paths can work for this purpose, and bonus, your feet get a massage!
These exercises are even more important if you are prone to toe joint deformities like hammertoes, mallet, or claw toes, as well as anyone experiencing toe cramping. These deformities can be treated if caught early, so if you have pain or notice that your toes look different, pay close attention to your toes. Come see our podiatrists and mention your concerns as part of your annual podiatry exam. Make an appointment with us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can perform a thorough assessment at our Jonesboro, AR office to treat your feet and ankles and keep them healthy.