How to get stronger feet

Every time your feet touch the ground when you’re walking, you’re asking them to absorb two to three times your body weight – with each step! Considering the average person takes around 3,000 steps per day, that’s a lot of weight

And if you happen to be a runner, you might land on your feet 5,000 times per hour during just one long run. So think about that: if you take 5,000 strides and your feet are absorbing around 300 pounds per stride, then you’re putting 1,500,000 pounds on your body during a 1-hour run! If you’re sprinting or running fast, your feet take an even greater pounding. Each foot strike of Usain Bol hits the ground with over 1,200 pounds of force – about four times greater the average jogger!

Even if you don’t run, your feet take a beating simply walking around and standing. If they’re not up for the challenge, the result of those weak feet can be strain on the low back, knees, and hips, not to mention foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, or metatarsal fractures, and ankle sprains and strains

That’s why NMTBP is teaching you how to get stronger feet!

How Feet Get Weak

Most people have weak feet – and this is a direct result of not only wearing shoes for most of the day, but specifically wearing shoes that are designed for maximum stability and cushioning. Just imagine if from the time that you were born, you wore protective gloves on your hands all day long. If you ever got into a situation in which you had to take those gloves off and do manual labour such as moving furniture, doing some pull-ups, or swinging a golf club or tennis racquet, your delicate hands would be beaten up and blistered in no time!

In the same way, you can’t keep your feet constantly in the protective cocoon of padded shoes, never strengthen your feet with the exercises you’re about to learn, and expect your feet to somehow last through a long run, a bike ride, or a pickup game of basketball, soccer or tennis

How to Get Strong Feet

So how can we get strong feet that can help with back pain, make you run faster, improve balance, and reduce ankle and feet injuries? Here are 5 Quick and Dirty Tips to get strong feet:

Tip 1: Stand More

Sitting can be a potentially life shortening activity and can also shut down your fat burning metabolism. But that’s not all! Sitting all day can also keep your feet from getting strong. For this reason, consider staying on your feet for much more of your day in either minimalist shoes or barefoot. To both strengthen and stretch your feet even more,  roll a golf ball around under your feet, or even stand on two or three golf balls to get your feet strong while chatting on the phone or working on the computer

Tip 2: Lose the Shoes

If you’ve been wearing big, bulky, protective shoes for a long time, then your feet may have difficulty sensing the ground properly. So try incorporating ‘feel-for-the-ground’ activities such as standing on one leg when you’re brushing your teeth, standing on one leg on a balance disc or balance pillow at the gym, standing on one leg for exercises like overhead presses, or even bouncing on one leg on a mini-trampoline a few times a week

Tip 3: Do Single Leg Exercises

While some of the balance activities will help strengthen your feet, also try standing on one leg and practicing rolling your entire body weight from the outside of your foot to the inside of the foot and back, until your foot is tired. You can do this at home, or as a warm up at the gym. While at the gym, it can also be helpful to do cable kick forwards and cable kick back exercises while standing on one foot. If your tiny foot muscles start to burn and fatigue with these movements, you’ll know you’re conditioning your foot muscles. You may find that as you do these types of exercises, the bottom of your foot, your calf muscles, or your Achilles tendon feel tight or painful. So you may also need to work on the flexibility of the back of your legs with calf stretches and foam rolling

Tip 4: Go Barefoot

It takes about 4-8 weeks for muscular adaptation to occur, so if you want to start running barefoot, take baby steps. For example, for the first 4 weeks, you can simply walk barefoot for 20-30 minutes each day and try to have your shoes off as much as possible, especially when standing at work or home. For the next 2 weeks, begin to run barefoot for very small distances on soft surfaces, like a few laps around a park or any easy jog  around a soft track, just 2-3 times per week, and no more than 1 mile. Each week, gradually increase this volume

After 8 weeks, if your feet are pain-free and you feel comfortable on soft surfaces, you can start experimenting with harder surfaces, paying very close attention to how your feet feel and whether or not anything hurts (which is a good clue that your feet aren’t quite strong enough yet for longer distances or hard surfaces)

Tip 5: Include Plyometrics

You can condition your feet to withstand the impact of the ground better. This is especially important if you’re used to always wearing shoes, since the cushioning of a normal shoe provides significant impact reduction and absorption. Plyometrics are explosive exercises in which you hop, bound, and skip, and reverse direction as quickly as possible after landing on the ground. Try side-to-side hops and single leg jumps onto a box

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October 18, 2012

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