If you've worn conventional footwear all your life, chances are your feet are weak. Conventional shoes act like a cast- they restrict the natural movement of the foot and make them become dependent on the cushioning and support that they provide.
According to Ben Greenfield (Get-Fit Guy), "Stronger feet can relieve back pain, make you run faster, improve balance, and reduce ankle and foot injuries.". We rely on our feet to walk, run, and balance throughout our daily lives. Our feet are our roots. If you don't have a strong foundation, the rest of your body must compensate for the weaknesses, affecting your overall performance.
Here are 4 tips for strengthening for feet.
Tip 1- Spend less time on your butt.
By now you've probably heard that sitting is the new smoking. Americans are spending more time sitting now than ever. It's not only affecting our waistlines, but it could also be weakening your feet. If you work in front of a computer for most of the day, try a standing workstation. If that option isn't available, make sure you get up and move throughout the day. For every hour that you are sitting, it is recommended that you get up and walk around for at least two minutes.
Tip 2- Perform more single leg exercises.
Whether you're brushing your teeth while standing in tree pose, balancing on one foot while you wash dishes, or performing one legged squats or plyometric moves, this balancing act will help condition your foot muscles. Perform these exercises barefoot when possible, or wear a flat "natural" shoe like the SP-L3.
Tip 3-Go Barefoot whenever possible
The best surfaces to begin walking barefoot on are soft sand, grass and smooth rocks. Walking on rocks may not sound comfortable but according to Coach David Weck of BOSU Fitness, "The changing and shifting surface of these rocks will help activate all of the proprioceptive nerves that exist under your feet. There are lots of them and these nerves connect directly with the lower back. Unfortunately, these nerves endings are mostly dormant in many people. It is not just coincidence that more than 80% of people suffer significant back pain in their lives. When your feet are weak, you are practically guaranteeing you will experience significant back pain at some point."
Remember to transition slowly- if you're used to wearing conventional footwear, going barefoot will not be unlike removing a cast from your foot. Your foot will need to relearn how to function naturally (we refer to this as rediscovering your original Sense Of Motion).
Tip 4- Roll out all three of your arches
That's right, the foot has not one, but three arches (the lateral (outside) arch, the transverse (center) arch, and medial (inside) arch). When functioning properly, these three arches work together to power your feet. Try this rolling technique from Breaking Muscle (tip 4).