Let’s face it, unless they’re causing us pain, we really don’t pay much attention to our feet and ankles do we? Yet we rely on them so much to get us safely from A to B. Our feet need to be strong and supple to support our balance and movement, but they suffer a lot from the effects of modern life and the shoe choices we inflict on them!
The health of our feet and ankles is intrinsically linked to our knees, hips, back and shoulders so it’s really important to keep everything aligned. If we have a problem at one end of that column of joints, the chances are it’ll cause issues for other areas at some time as well.
Apparently, women suffer with foot problems much more than men – probably because of the rigid heeled shoes that we cram them into. As with all parts of our body, regular exercise and self-care are vital to looking after our feet and ankles.
Going barefoot when you’re at home is the simplest way to strengthen and revitalise your feet (just be careful if you suffer from plantar fasciitis as you may need more support). Massaging your feet is also a great way to relieve tension and Pilates can really help to focus on this part of our bodies too.
Meet your feet again
Stand upright and be aware of how your feet feel. Do you bear more weight on one foot than the other? Do your feet roll inwards or outwards and is there equal weight on your toes and heels? Then take a closer look at your feet too – check for ingrowing toenails, hard skin, verrucas, and is there any soreness on the top or soles of your feet?
Alignment and foot health issues can lead to weakness and balance problems or injury down the line so it’s best to try and address any problems now.
The ankle is a complex joint with the ability to move up and down and side to side. Ankles take a lot of strain and everyday wear and tear. This can weaken them if we don’t look after them properly as we get older. Weak ankles affect balance and increase the likelihood of sprains which in turn weakens them further.
Symptoms of weak ankles can be seen in the turning or rolling to the outside, balance problems, soreness and frequent sprains.
There are lots of great Pilates moves to strengthen and care for your feet and ankles, that we incorporate into the classes in our Mind & Body online membership group. Look out for calf raises, flexing and pointing the feet, stretching the toes and one of Claire’s personal favourites, the amazing tennis ball roll.
If you feel that your feet and ankles need a little extra special attention, the great thing about most foot and ankle exercises is that you can do them ‘little and often’ while sitting at your desk or on the sofa. With more confidence in your balance and strength, you’re ready to improve still further in a full class.
To find out more about our Mind & Body online membership package, with lots of Pilates and stretch classes for the feet and ankles right up to the neck and head, check out https://www.gemmapearcefitness.co.uk/plans-pricing