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Today, I’m going to teach you two foot exercises: foot circles and point flexes. Doing these foot exercises strengthens the muscles of the foot and lower leg, improves foot and ankle mobility, and helps promote circulation throughout the body.
If you do these foot exercises regularly, they can help reduce stiffness and pain in the feet, ankles, and shins. But the benefits of these foot exercises go far beyond the foot, ankle, and lower leg.
Pay careful attention to the instructions, and you will notice a large emphasis is placed on the alignment of both legs. Doing foot circles and point flexes can help you reestablish the linkage between the ankle, knee, and hip joints, which is something that gets lost when we spend too much time sitting and not enough time moving. Improving this ankle, knee, and hip linkage can reduce joint pain and make movements like going up and down stairs feel easier and more efficient.
How to Do These Foot Exercises:
- Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other leg bent and pulled up toward your chest.
- Clasp your hands behind the bent knee.
- Keep the foot on the floor flexed and pointed straight up toward the ceiling.
- Circle the lifted foot one way 20 times, then reverse direction for another set of 20 reps.
- Make sure the knee stays absolutely still—with all the movement coming from the ankle and not the knee. As you will see in the video, keeping the knee still and emphasizing movement of just the ankle will make your muscles work harder. This is a good thing!
- Now point and flex 20 times on the same foot. For the point flexes, bring the toes back toward the shin to flex, then reverse the direction to point the toes forward for 20 reps.
- Make sure your down leg’s foot is still pointing to the ceiling and not flopping out to the side.
- Be sure to keep the knee joint of the foot that is in the air in line with the hip and ankle. This helps with the ankle, knee, and hip connection I mentioned earlier. Lift your head and look at your knee periodically to make sure your knee is not moving in toward the mid-line of your body.
- Switch legs and repeat.
I think it’s interesting to pay attention to any differences from left to right with these exercises. A regular practice of foot circles and point flexes can help to balance out any asymmetry in the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
When to do these foot exercises:
- I recommend doing foot circles and point flexes daily in the morning to help boost muscle function and circulation before you start your day.
- You can also do foot circles and point flexes before you go out for a walk or run to help awaken the correct muscles used in walking and running. This will lead to a reduction in aches and pains, and will help you to get the most benefit from your activity.
For the best results, do these barefoot so you can emphasize the movement of the toes, arches of the feet, and ankle joints.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t allow the leg that is down on the floor to flop out to the side.
- Don’t circle from the knee. Make all the movement come from the ankle joint.
- Don’t pull your leg all the way in toward your chest.
- Don’t tense your shoulders, and don’t hold your breath. Relax your arms and allow your hip to do most of the work to stabilize your leg.