by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
Whether we are standing, walking or working out – our feet carry the burden of our body weight and stress during our daily movements. Often taken for granted, our feet need just as much of a recovery as the rest of our muscle groups.
If recovery is neglected for too long, fatigue, tissue stress and pain may present in our feet, forcing us to take that recovery. Below are some of the most effective mobility techniques designed to take stress off of the feet and bring balance back to the body.
Mobility Technique #1 – Plantar Foot Release
Performed in either a seated or standing position, use a golf ball or lacrosse ball to roll the bottom of the foot for 2 – 3 minutes. If you notice any sensitive areas, you can hold the ball in one place with focused pressure for 30 seconds to a minute.
Perform the above foot release every day in the morning and evening for 2 – 3 minutes per foot.
Mobility Technique #2 – Toe Stretch
Start in a seated position with one ankle crossed over the other knee. Take the opposite hand of the foot and place the fingers between all digits all the way to the base of the toes. If this is difficult to do, try to get the fingers between the toes as much as you can.
With the fingers between the toes, slowly move the toes up and down 10 times. This stretch can be re-enforced with any silicone toe spacer.
Mobility Technique #3 – Calf Release
Similar to the bottom of the foot, the muscles of the calf get tight when used on a daily basis. One of the most effective release techniques is trigger point or myofascial release. This can easily be performed with a lacrosse ball or foam roller
Sitting on the floor, place the back of the lower leg (about 6 inches above the heel) on the lacrosse ball or foam roller. Place the other ankle on top of the leg directly above the lacrosse ball or roller. Holding pressure on the calf, slowly move the bottom ankle up and down 10 times.
Shift the ball or roller down the leg half an inch and then repeat the above. After a couple minutes, switch to the other leg.
Mobility Technique #4 – Pelvic Floor Release
You may be wondering, why are we releasing the pelvis when it is our feet that are fatigued. Interestingly, our feet are actually connected to our pelvis through muscle connections and fascial tissue.
For the pelvic floor release you will need the lacrosse ball again. Seated in a chair, reach back with one hand and find your “sits bone” or ischial tuberosity. Place the lacrosse ball just on the inside of this bone. This is position 1 of the pelvic floor release. Hold here for 30 seconds, relaxing the breath. Then shift the ball back about 1 inch and hold for another 30 seconds. Finally shift the ball to just next to the tailbone and hold for a final 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Mobility Technique #5 – Hip Flexor Stretch
Start with one leg forward and the other leg back in a lunge position. Slightly tuck the pelvis under and shift the bodyweight forward, pulsing for 10 counts. Hold the 10th pulse forward and bring the arms directly over the head.
Keeping the arms directly over the head, pulse the hips forward another 10 times. Hold the last pulse forward and now move the arms overhead from the left to the right like you are painting a rainbow.
Repeat on the other leg.
I recommend doing these mobility exercises every day, especially in the case of an acute plantar fascial flare-up. These mobilization techniques are just one piece of the holistic approach to plantar fasciitis. Another great addition to your routine should be StepStrong – an all-natural supplement that aids the body in its fight against inflammation!