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Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Posted by DonnaO on 6/04/04 at 12:16 (152013)

I had TTS surgery on Feb. 13, 2004 and so far am very pleased with the results. Does anyone have any suggestions on exercises I can use to strengthen the muscles in the aches, heels, and balls of the feet? Thanks.
DonnaO

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/04/04 at 13:53 (152023)

Donna, have a look at the yoga foot exercises (click on yoga and you'll be taken to them).

Another good strengthening exercise for the whole of the plantar area, is:

Sit upright and comfortable in a chair (preferably a straight-backed chair) with your bare feet flat on the floor. Draw your toes towards you so that your arch lifts. (Do this without curling the toes: keep them straight - that's the difficult part.) Hold for a moment or two, then release.

Do each foot separately a few times each, then both together a few times. Go gently: you may feel a little discomfort, and that's ok, but avoid pain. If it isn't right for you, stop.

Do it whenever you think of it. If you're at work, you can do it under your desk without anyone noticing :)
.

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Pam S. on 6/04/04 at 17:47 (152038)

Julie:
Do you keep your heels flat on the floor while doing this? Is this like a modified towel crunch because you do not curl the toes? Is this a very subtle movement? I do not think I am doing this right. My PT has me doing the towel crunches. Do you think that is good for strengthening the arch area?

It is very nice to read your posts again. They are always so thoughtful. I wish you were my neighbor or my Yoga instructor! I know what you mean about taking time off from the internet. I have to do that to every now and then. Thx for your time. pam

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Dorothy on 6/04/04 at 19:47 (152054)

Julie - I can't grasp the way that one can draw the toes towards you so that your arch lifts but without curling the toes. Are there some other tips or concepts to help this idea get across? Thanks...

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Susan S on 6/04/04 at 21:14 (152062)

Julie,
I can cross one leg over the other with the foot dangling, then point the toes more toward the floor without curling them, then relax. Is that the movement you're getting at?

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 02:57 (152068)

Yes, Pam, the heels stay flat on the floor. No, it's not really like the towel curl exercise in which you do curl the toes to pick up the towel. That exercise is also useful for strengthening the arch area, but not quite as precise as this one.

Yes, it is a subtle movement, and not easy to grasp at first. If the muscles of the arch, which have to do the work, are underused and weak (as is the case with most of us) they won't at first 'get the message' about what they're supposed to be doing.

Re-reading my instructions, given rather too hastily yesterday, I can see that the instruction to 'draw your toes towards you' left room for confusion. I will try again (I hope this helps you too, Dorothy):

'Draw your toes along the floor towards you without lifting or curling them, so that your arch and instep lift. Keep your toes on the floor as you do this: they will move closer to your heels.'

An alternative instruction would be:

'Lift the instep, using the muscles of the arch. You'll find that the toes move closer to the heel.'

It's the muscles of the arch that are being isolated and worked to produce the lift, but I wouldn't choose that way of describing it. Those muscles are not accustomed to being used, so the mind (which has to send the message to any muscles we want to exercise) doesn't (for most people) 'connect' with them as readily as it does with the toes. But it may help to understand the exercise, which I think is a really useful one for strengthening the whole of the plantar area.
.

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 03:00 (152069)

Susan, no - that's not it. See the post I've just made. I hope it is clearer than yesterday's.
.

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Susan S on 6/05/04 at 08:42 (152080)

Julie,
Great, I get it! Would you put this exercise in the Treatments board also? (If someone doesn't have TTS, they might not look here. I usually don't.) Thanks loads for the good advice you give.

Susan

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 10:00 (152083)

I'd be glad to, Susan. Posts disappear so quickly, though, that it would be more useful to append it to the yoga foot exercises. I'll ask Scott if he will let me amend the archived post to include it.
.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 10:06 (152085)

Scott

There has been interest in an exercise that I've posted to strengthen the muscles of the arch (see the rest of this thread) and Susan has asked me to put it on the Treatments board. It would be better if it could be added to the archived post to which you made the word yoga a link. Is this possible? Could I do it myself? Could you tell me how?

Thanks,

Julie
.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

scott r on 6/05/04 at 10:18 (152087)

Julie,
For technical reasons i was unable to modify the original yoga post. If you want to rewrite the yoga post (some copying and pasting should help), i can make the yoga link point to the new post.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 10:52 (152090)

That's fine. I'll copy and paste, add the new bit, post it again, and let you know when I've done it so you can renew the link.

Thanks, Scott.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Susan S on 6/05/04 at 11:06 (152091)

Sorry to put you to so much work! But that's a good exercise. I think muscle building is one of my missing links to improvement. Thanks again.

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Dorothy on 6/05/04 at 11:36 (152092)

Julie - Thank you for the renewed effort. I'm going to ask you to make one more effort: is there a 'visual aid' that you can think of? For example, sometimes in tai chi things are said like 'imagine you are embracing the beach ball...' - things like that. Is there some such cue that might get the idea across for this exercise. It sounds like such a helpful move and I want to get it - but I think my toes curl because my mind is not 'getting it'.
Sorry to ask again, but I thought this question might lead to increased elucidation. I know - I can be very concrete sometimes...
Thanks again.

Re: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 13:07 (152099)

Dorothy

I've been trying since yesterday to think of a visual aid, because I thought that would help you, but it eludes me. If I think of one I will come back to you.

Yes: your toes curl because your mind isn't getting it. They're not making the connection with the arch muscles, so they're making do with the toes, and the toes, anxious to please, are just trying to be helpful. I'd suggest you keep trying. It takes most people awhile to 'get it'. It's at least partly due to the fact that the muscles are weak, but even if the toes curl at first, they'll be working and getting stronger.
.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 13:10 (152100)

No problem, Susan: it's done. Actually, I was glad of the opportunity to rewrite the post and flesh it out a bit. I think it's better now.

Yes, it's important to strengthen. You may remember Dr Ed posting about muscular strength a couple of weeks ago: he was talking about the interesting Russian Stim technique, and he commented that people in countries where everyone goes barefoot have very strong foot muscles - and probably don't get PF. I feel sure that strengthening is one of the keys to getting over PF (though in chronic cases, where tissue degeneration has taken hold, it may be less helpful)- and certainly in avoiding recurrence.
.

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

Julie on 6/05/04 at 13:12 (152102)

Scott, I've rewritten the post, added the new exercise, and posted it. Can you renew the link?

Thanks,

J

Re: Re:scottr: Exercises that help to strengthen foot and arch muscles

lauriel on 6/07/04 at 11:59 (152232)

Julie. I was at loss too on how to do the excercise, until i did your alertative suggestion of just raising your instep,it gets yo to feel how the pullin your toes excercisein should work. Thanks I will be giving these a try
laurie