Top 3 Reasons Why Foot Care is Fundamental to Building Strength [Plus, Exercises for Foot Strength]

Having a consistent practice that includes foot care is something that’s often missed, and finding powerful exercises for foot strength can be challenging. Here at StrengthX, we know that true strength is not about having 6-pack abs, or how hard and fast we train, but strength is something that we build from the ground up and from the inside out. 

“Strength lives in your bones, mind, heart, and your character (not just in your muscles)!” – Dr. Mike Lewen, Creator of StrengthX

If we focus on creating strength from the ground up, from our feet, this gives us an opportunity to create a more balanced and strong body. In this society, we get caught up in looks. If we don’t have the 6-pack abs, we start the negative looping of thoughts that make us feel like we’re not good enough or strong enough. This is not true. One of the reasons that StrengthX exists is to challenge these broken belief systems around what strength means. 

Given that StrengthX is a very unique training facility, Dr. Mike Lewen, the creator of StrengthX, wants everyone to remember that we get strong from the inside out (not the other way around). So, beating ourselves up over not having those abs we see in the (edited and most likely fake) photos on social media, or being in pain just to get strong is not something that we have to endure and none of that is sustainable. 

The process to build strength in our bodies doesn’t have to be so painful, and paying attention to the feet can mean decreasing the potential of injury. 

Foot care should be fundamental to the process of all strength training practices– doing so can change the game for living a more vibrant life.

Get to know your feet

The feet are complex. We can remind ourselves that this is true by looking at the anatomy of the foot. As you can see from the image below, it’s clear that there are a lot of moving parts!

“In humans, the foot is one of the most complex structures in the body. It is made up of over 100 moving parts – bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments designed to allow the foot to balance the body’s weight on just two legs and support such diverse actions as running, jumping, climbing, and walking.

Because they are so complicated, human feet can be especially prone to injury. Strains, sprains, tendonitis, torn ligaments, broken bones, fallen arches, bunions, corns, and plantar warts can all occur.” – Biology Dictionary 

Why foot care is essential

When was the last time you really spent some time analyzing how much your feet do for you? This sounds silly, but there’s a lot of wisdom that comes from the simple act of gratitude. Often, we’ll pay attention to our feet, toes, or ankles only when we injure them, but if we can really see our feet every day and thank them, this brings more mindfulness to how we treat them. 

Think about how long you’ve done simple activities that many take for granted like walking, running, and standing. Add up all the years you’ve been alive to date doing these things. Wow, right? Thank those feet right now! 

Now, let’s dive into a few top reasons why the feet are essential to take care of and ways to enhance foot care practices:

  1. Everything is connected. Our feet are connected to the ankle, knee, and spine. When we walk or run, our body goes through a complex set of steps that makes movement seem smooth and easy, but it’s a complex cycle called the “gait” or walking cycle.

    “Energy from the ground and healthy movement is transferred through the feet up into ankles, knees, hips and into the spine, all the way up to the head.”  – From To Your Health.com

    Misalignments: If we pay attention to the way our feet are aligned, this can open up our eyes to see more clearly how we can mitigate the risk of injury that may come down the road. “A misalignment of the structures of the feet and ankles causes a ripple effect that travels up, through the leg, and into the hip and lower back. If the foot doesn’t function properly, it can cause the other joints in the lower part of the body to overcompensate.” (Nagy Footcare)

    Correcting structural abnormalities and restoring balance can take the pressure off the other joints like the ankles, and the knees, and can mitigate the risk of lower back pain. And, correcting these foot problems in the early stages would be the way to go.
  2. Shoes, are they “mini coffins” for our feet? Dr. Mike doesn’t wear shoes. He firmly believes in allowing our feet to touch the Earth, and to help our feet build strength the natural way. Building foot strength is easier to do when they’re not trapped in things that bind and constrict them (these “things” being shoes). Many women know the pain of shoes, and in our eyes here at StrengthX, the old saying that “pain equals beauty” has got to go.

    Many shoes constrict or cause a lot of foot pain over time (even ones that are supposed to be comfortable), and there’s an easy way to take care of this problem. Go barefoot as often as you can!

    There’s another big reason why not wearing shoes is healthier for us. There’s a simple healing technique (for our feet and our entire bodies) that has been around since the dawn of time and has made leaps and bounds in the world of natural healing. You’ve probably heard it labeled as “Earthing” and the practice is simple — take your shoes off and let them touch any natural earth surface be it dirt, grass, sand, leaves, or wherever you’re making direct contact with the Earth. This allows us to tap into the magic of the energy of the Earth which has amazing healing energies that will infuse our entire body system from the feet up. You can learn more in the Earthing Movie here.

  1. Know your toes. These little guys often don’t get any attention either, that is beside the times when we stub them (which is always painful). Noticing our toes and how they’re aligned can be game-changing as well.

    Have you noticed if your 2nd toe is larger than your big toe? If you have this, you have what is called a “Morton’s toe.” (If you’re the curious type, the name is derived from the American orthopedic surgeon Dudley Joy Morton, 1884–1960, who originally described it as Morton’s syndrome or Morton’s foot syndrome.)

    Did you know that this difference in size from your 2nd toe to your big toe can cause a major imbalance in the way your foot, knee, hip, and lower back align? Make sure to check your toes out. If you have Morton’s toe, here’s a big secret. Put a little pad of Dr. Scholl’s mole foam padding (link here) on the joint of your big toe as this image shows below. This can be a back and knee-saving practice (especially if you’re an athlete of any kind).

Exercises for Foot Strength

An ethos Dr. Mike goes by is that we grow old because we stop playing (not the other way around), so bringing creativity and play into working out and building strength is key to all that he does. Here are a few key ways that you can build strength in your feet (at home), or if you’re in the Asheville, NC region come in for a consult with Dr. Mike (he’ll show you how much fun it can be to get strong!). 

  1. Use a stability ball for strengthening your feet  (link to product sample here): The stability ball can be used (without shoes) to help you begin to align your feet to strengthen imbalances as well as to stabilize the ankle and muscles. Here’s a great video that shows you how to use the Bosu stability ball here. 

  1. Stretch your feet to help you on your way to better alignment (link to product sample here): Dr. Mike has a device that’s (sort of) similar to this at the StrengthX training center. If you’d like to get one in the home, something like this can help to stretch the tendons, ligaments, etc. in the foot and calf muscles, as well as play with the alignment of your feet. 

  1. Balance on a beam to work out all the small and large muscles of your feet (link to product sample here): Balancing on a beam takes the whole-body balance game and foot strength-building exercises to the next level. They’re a fun way to build up train hip stability, and ankle and foot mobility, and help to increase body awareness and balance. There are also beautiful wooden beams from this company here you can explore: https://woodumove.ru/ — the different diameter of the crossbars along the entire length allows you to work out the small and large muscles of the foot in 10-15 minutes of training.

Summary 

Creating a practice of mindfulness around foot care and doing exercises for foot strength can mitigate the risk of injury later. The injuries that can come from misalignments and injuries to the feet can be disempowering. Or, worse than that, these injuries can be debilitating causing chronic pain or even making it hard to walk. 

Building strong feet and doing exercises to strengthen from the ground up can be life-changing for people who want to live longer, healthier lives, and have more fun while doing it.