Do your feet hurt? You are not alone – a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that 77 percent of people in the United States have a foot problem. Fortunately, you can stretch your feet to alleviate pain and other foot problems; foot stretching can also help prevent painful foot issues. With practice, you can even take foot stretching to an art form that provides maximum relief from even the toughest foot problems.
Feet are complex – each foot has 30 joints, 28 bones, and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. All of these structures work in unison to balance, support, and move your body. Foot problems can develop one or more of these structures to cause pain, poor balance and mobility issues.
A number of foot problems can cause pain and stiffness from your toes to your heels. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot problems. Pain and stiffness from plantar fasciitis develop as the result of inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot to connect your toes to your heel bone.
Certain lifestyle choices, such as wearing high heels or uncomfortable shoes, can also cause painful foot problems. Standing all day can cause discomfort, fatigue, and even swelling in your feet and lower legs. Inflammation and swelling can cause pain, and in some cases can prevent you from going to work, taking care of your family or engaging in your favorite sport or hobby. Foot stretches can help stimulate circulation to reduce discomfort and inflammation in your feet.
Stiffness in the muscles, joints or connective tissue can reduce flexibility in your feet, which makes you more prone to injury. Foot pain and stiffness can also affect your balance, which increases your risk for falls. Foot stretching can loosen tight tissue to alleviate stiffness and improve balance.
The Many Benefits of Foot Stretching
Foot stretching provides many benefits to your feet, toes and ankles. Most notably, it stretches the more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each of your feet. Stretching your muscles and connective tissue, such as the plantar fascia that causes plantar fasciitis, in this way decreases stiffness.
Stretching also improves the range of motion of your feet. This means stretching helps each joint move fully and smoothly, so that you can walk without pain or stiffness in your feet. Once you start stretching your feet and toes, you will discover the many benefits of foot stretching, both for your feet and for the rest of your body.
Most foot stretches are simple and do not require the use of complicated equipment. You can do foot stretches at home or at the gym as part of your regular exercise routine. Perhaps one of the best benefits of foot stretching is that it feels great and it soothes aching feet almost immediately. Foot stretches can also help prevent some types of foot problems.
Foot care specialists have developed a number of foot stretches that reduce discomfort and improve function. These foot stretches include the “toe raise, point and curl” and the “big toe stretch.” To learn more about foot stretches, and whether they can help you reduce foot pain and dysfunction, contact Sweeney Foot & Ankle Specialists.