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It’s one of the most forgotten – but important – areas of your body! You finish a long hard training session and, with some reluctance, quickly do a few stretches. Maybe you briefly stretch your calf muscles. Maybe a quick quad/thigh stretch. Or if you’ve got a few extra minutes (and have a history of hip problems), you

remember to stretch your glutes.

But when was the last time you looked after your feet?

My guess is rarely – if ever! Something you’re quickly reminded of every time your massage therapist gets a hold of them! It’s not a sexy topic, and knowing most runners, they probably aren’t that sexy to look at (hello black toenails!).

But your feet are the workhorse of your body. With over 100 muscles, they absorb the shock and impact of every single foot strike in your long run and every single crank of the pedals. Even in the pool they don’t get a rest; pointing your toes (especially if you tense up your toes) can lead to foot and calf cramps in the pool. Now for all the work they do, they tend to be neglected by most people. But healthy and happy feet are critical if you’re going to stay injury-free and training consistently year round.

You probably forget to worry about your feet until that dreaded day when you try to get out of bed one morning and are suddenly greeted by pain as soon as one foot hits the ground. Even if you’ve never had any issues with your feet in the past, you still need to look after them. The plantar fascia in the bottom of your feet is connected to your achilles, calf muscles, hamstrings and even the muscles in your back, neck and scalp. So any tightness or tension in your feet can contribute to problems further up your body.

The solution – buy yourself one of the cheapest but best tools on the market – a (hard) spiky ball. They’ll set you back $10 to $20 but it’s priceless if your training is important to you (and your sanity!).

del_6446Do you wear high heels at work?

Then this is especially important for you. You sit all day at work and wear high heels. All day your poor legs (calf and feet in particular) have been constricted and shortened. Then you head straight to track at night and expect them to be able to extend, stretch and drive you forward and fast around the track; it’s a recipe for disaster.

There are plenty of different styles of spiky balls available these days – both hard and soft. My squad (and I) prefer the hard spiky balls. However the soft ones will suit you if you have ticklish feet and/or a low pain threshold.

Put the ball on a hard surface and roll, baby roll!

First go forwards and backwards – from the ball of your foot back to your heel a couple of times. And secondly then sideways, from the inside of the ball of your foot (near the base of your big toe) to the outer edge of your foot (near the base of your little toe). When you do the sideways movement, try to wrap your foot around the ball. This can help to relax the internal tissue in your feet as well as ensure that all 33 joints (yes, 33!) in your feet are functioning properly.

With 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, your feet are an incredibly complicated structure and it doesn’t take much – even if just one of the tiny muscles in your foot is tight – to offset the entire structure.

Besides, it feels damn good. Try it for yourself.

 

Text by Jen Brown

Photo Delly Carr

About The Author

Jen Brown

Registered Fitness Professional

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