Whether I’m exploring nature or an urban city, my favourite method of transportation is always via my feet. I love how a good hike can recharge my soul and I am a firm believer that the secret to finding a city’s pulse is by wandering aimlessly through the veins of its streets. High volumes of walking, especially on unstable surfaces, over hills, or in restrictive shoes can wreak havoc on the health of your feet making the rest of your trip uncomfortable or nearly impossible to finish as planned.
There are a lot of sexy aspects of fitness, and most would argue that foot health isn’t one them; however, because I both love being barefoot and value my feet highly as magical little tools for exploration, foot health is on the top of my priority list for taking care of my body. The good news is that giving your toes a little extra love is both easy and quick.
I complete the following five-minute warm-up at the start of every single workout and before embarking on any hike or city tour. It’s also great for reinvigorating tired feet, and when done regularly can improve foot function and ankle mobility, increase range of motion in your squatting and hinging patterns, and can also improve knee and hip mobility, which all makes this quick routine one of the most exciting ways to show your body some extra love.
Easy 5-minute Foot Love Routine
Self Myofascial Release – Plantar Fascia
Toe Mobility Drills
Ankle Mobility Drill
Toe Squat Hold
SMR – Plantar Fascia
The only piece of exercise equipment that I travel with is my trusty lacrosse ball. I love it because it can be used for self-myofascial release (SMR) on areas that tend to get really tight from travelling – my feet, calves, glutes, and spinal extensors. SMR is a method of releasing muscle tension by applying pressure to “tight” or restricted areas of tissue, via tools such as balls and foam rollers.
To perform on your feet, any small round object will do (tennis and lacrosse balls are usually best). Place the ball under the arch of your foot (your plantar fascia) and gently roll back and forth for one minute each side. If there are any particularly “tight” areas, you can place the ball under that point and gently increase pressure for up to a minute until you feel the tension release.
Toe Drill 1
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Begin by lifting just your big toes off the ground without lifting your little toes up or without clenching your little toes on the ground. Hold for one second and return big toes to the ground. Next, lift all four of your little toes off the ground without lifting your big toes and without clenching your big toes on the ground. Repeat 5-8 times alternating between lifting your big and little toes. If you’re not used to working your toes, you may find it very challenging to isolate your movements when you first start, but regular practice will make this much easier!
Toe Mobility Drill 2
Shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground a few centimetres. Gently squeeze all of your toes together and hold for one second. Next, extend your toes trying to get as much distance as possible between your big and little toe and hold for one second. Repeat 5-8 times and then return your left foot to the ground and repeat on your right foot.
Ankle Mobility Drill
Stand in a staggered stance with your left foot a few centimetres behind a wall with your right foot a few feet further back. Place your hands on the wall and slowly bend your left knee rocking forward so that you increase the stretch you feel in your left ankle. It is important that you do not lift your left heel off the ground here. Release the stretch and repeat 5-8 times on your left foot rocking forward and backward. Switch legs and repeat on your right side.
Come to a kneeling position with your feet and knees together. Tuck your toes under, coming onto the balls of your feet. Slowly sit back resting on your heels and hold the posture for 20 seconds to one minute. This posture can be quite intense, so release the position if you start to feel significant discomfort or pain and slowly increase the length that you hold the position over time.
Brittany is a traveling strength coach and yoga instructor from Chicago. She fuses her travel stories with her coaching background to help inspire and empower women to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to take charge of creating their own adventures.
She thrives off of coffee and wine, prefers to spend her days barefoot, and when she isn’t coaching or working on her handstand skills, she can be found plotting her next adventure.