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Exercises for strong and flexible feet

Muscle groups
all levels

We run on our feet. They are our foundation. That’s why it’s important to have strong and flexible feet. So here are some strengthening exercises for your feet.

As you probably know, I’ve been injured for more than 25 years. Now I’m running again. Last Saturday I even finished my first ultra run; the 53 kilometers in Sussex, England. Today, that race was 5 days ago. My feet still feel fine. No ankle injury. In the past I couldn’t even run 5 kilometers.

Monotonous hammering

I admit, I used to run on the road, now I only run trails. That makes a lot of difference. On the road your feet are landing in the same way, step after step. On the trails your feet are always landing in a different way, because of the surface you’re running on; rocks, sand, roots, mud. It’s the monotonous hammering on the road my ankles can’t handle.

But lots of these trails go partly over roads as well. Plus, last Saturday I ran 53 kilometers. That’s a bit more than 5 kilometers on the road. So why can I run now? Yoga. At least, that’s what I think. My feet have become strong from doing lots of balancing exercises on one foot. You need muscles to do that. Muscles in your feet, to be precise.

'Yoga has made the difference. The difference between weak feet and strong feet'

John Kraijenbrink

Weak ankles

As a kid I had weak ankles, so the doctor prescribed me shoes with extra stability. As a teenager, when I started running and got problems with my right ankle the doctor sent me to a podiatrist. She gave me special inlays. No exercises to make my feet stronger, just a piece of cork to put in my shoe. As a result my feet stayed weak.

It didn’t help and in the end I had to give up running. Fifteen years ago I started to do yoga. Almost 2 years ago I started to run again. To my own surprise my ankles were fine with it. Okay, I had to give up road running, but I can do trail running. To be fair, trail running is more fun anyway.

The only conclusion I can draw is that yoga has made the difference. The difference between weak feet and strong feet.

Strengthening exercises

In the last couple of months I slowly have increased the distance I’m running. To make sure I wouldn’t get ankle problems again, I made my own series of exercises for strong and flexible feet. I hope they are as beneficial for you as they are for me.

Have fun and keep on running!

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