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Arch Enemy

The dreaded sandal season is upon us and although they seem to go best with the beach and summer clothing, you are wrecking havoc on your feet and plantar fascia! For those of you who don' t know, plantar fasciitis is a very stubborn injury that is known to reoccur. It involves pain and inflammation of the thick band of tissue (called the plantar fascia) that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. It can range from mild to severe pain and is felt mostly in the arches or heels of your feet. The underlying problem is weakness and tightness in the muscles and tendons that support the arch and feet. Plantar Fasciitis is particularly common in runners and people who wear footwear with inadequate support.

Below are a couple of exercises to help strengthen and stabilize, try to perform these exercises BAREFOOT, daily.

1. Calf Raises - Targets the tendons in the heels and calf : Standing shoulder width apart, raise up on the balls of your feet ( as high as you can get) and slowly lower down. Repeat this 10 times, take a 30 second break and repeat the set of 10, three times. An advanced version of this would be to stand with your heels hanging off of a stair and raise up onto the balls of your feet or you can try it one legged.

2. Quarter Raises - Targets stability through the ankle and strengthens the arch. Take two quarters and place them under where the big toe meets the ball of the foot on each foot. You are going to lift up onto your toes while focusing on driving the quarters into the ground. You can hold up at the top for five seconds and try to do this ten times.

2. Arch Doming - Targets stability of the arch to control excess rolling inward of the foot. While standing shoulder width apart, press your toes downward into the ground, while keeping the heel planted (so your foot will create a dome). Release and repeat ten times on each foot. It may be easier to try doing it one side at a time.

3. Towel Curls - Increases foot strength. Start with a small towel on the ground in front of you and place one heel on the towel edge closest to you. Focus on only using your toes to scrunch the towel all the way towards you - hold - and then push the towel away until it is flat out just like the start position. You can do this 10 times with each foot.

Below are some targeting stretches you can try

1. Big Toe Stretch: While seated, cross one leg over the other. Grab your big toe, pull it gently towards your body and hold for 15 seconds.

2. While seated (with knees at 90 degrees), place a folded up towel or exercise band lengthwise under the arches of both feet. Grab the ends of the towel in each hand and gently pull the tops of your feet towards you (creating a straight line from your hips to the heels). You can also try this while sitting on the ground and just wrapping the towel or band around the arches of the feet and pulling the toes in towards you.

Another great option that is effective is rolling out the bottom of your foot. You can use a lacrosse or golf ball, a frozen water bottle or a foam roller (preferably with different shaped edges). You can start on with one side of the foot (standing or seated) and you really want to focus on getting into the arch of one foot at a time. You can roll back on forth on the bottom of the foot for a minute on each side. This does tend to be quite tender, so be careful of the amount of pressure you are using. This option is great, because you are able to perform it anywhere - even under your desk at work!

These tips will help keep your feet happy this sandal season!

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