Moving is healthy. Moving is important! And yet many of us seem to have days where we are chained to a desk or confined to a relatively small area.
It can sometimes feel quite difficult to carve out the time to move a bit during a busy day, but it’s something our bodies benefit greatly from. Reducing sitting can help increase metabolism, regulate blood sugar, and break down body fat.
When it comes to your feet, moving is a very important factor in maintaining healthy circulation, reducing the risks of diabetes, increasing flexibility, and keeping muscles and bones strong.
Of course, not everybody is going to be able to take a short jog every few hours at work, but there are still plenty of good, quick stretches for the feet that can be performed during the day.
A few of the stretches we’ll go into here might require some space, but others only need a wall or step! Still more moves can be performed seated right where you are (your co-workers might not even know you’re doing them!). You will usually have to take your shoes off, and we still recommend taking a few minutes to stand up and walk about afterward, too.
Taking a few minutes out of every hour to stretch and move can make a significant difference to your foot comfort and health—and likely your mood toward the end of the day as well!
The 3-Phase Toe Raise
This stretch is performed from a seated position with shoes off.
- Sit upright in a chair, with feet flat on the floor.
- With toes remaining on the floor, raise your heels until only the balls of the feet remain in contact with the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then return to your original position.
- Second, raise your heels slightly and point your toes so only the ends of your big and second toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds before returning to your original position.
- Third, raise your heels and curl your toes inward, leaving only the tips of all toes touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle 10 times.
This is another seated, barefoot exercise that can be completed at your desk. Like the above exercise, you can focus on each foot individually, or move both at once.
- Sit upright in a chair with both feet resting gently against the floor.
- Spread your toes out as far as you can without straining them. Hold this position for about 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise is simple, yet good for improving range and muscle control. If you want to add some challenge after a while, stretch a rubber band over the toes before you begin.
You will need a golf ball, tennis ball, or sturdy plastic bottle for this one, but it’s well worth it!
- While sitting, simply roll the ball or bottle under one foot, from front to back. You don’t have to press down hard; only as much as keeps you comfortable.
- Continue for about 2 minutes, then repeat with the other foot.
- If you think you can get away with this at work, or for doing this at home: freeze the golf ball, or fill the plastic bottle partway with water and freeze it before using it to roll. Just make sure not to spill water beneath your desk!
Achilles Stair Stretch
Any simple stair (or even a curb) will do the trick for this stretch. Just make sure you aren’t in a high-traffic area when you begin.
- Stand with the ball of one foot on the step or curb.
- Slowly and carefully lower the heel of that foot, reaching for the landing beneath. By all means, use the wall or a handrail for balance while doing this, if needed!
- Stop lowering once you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot, then hold for 10-15 seconds.
- Return your heel to the starting position.
- Repeat 5-10 times per foot. If you feel confident, you can perform this exercise with both feet at once.
Achilles Wall Stretch
Yes, you will need a wall for support. If you happen to be outside at the time, a large tree will also do.
- Face the wall or tree and raise your arms, resting your palms flat against it, in front of you.
- Place one foot back behind you, keeping the knee straight. Bend the knee of the opposite leg. Both heels should remain flat on the ground.
- Push your hips forward, until you can feel your Achilles tendon and calf muscles (just above the back of your heel) stretch.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat three times per side.
It’s important to have support for this one. A heavy chair (not a wheeled one!) or a counter (like in your kitchen or break room, hopefully), will suffice.
- Place both feet on the floor, standing behind your means of support.
- With hands resting on the chair or counter, rise up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds.
- Lower yourself in a gradual, controlled motion. Try not to hold onto the support as you do so (but it’s perfectly fine if you still need it!).
- Repeat 15 times.
Get the Most Out of Your Day!
Keeping your feet, ankles, and Achilles limber is always a great idea. If you suffer from certain problems such as heel pain or bunions, however, some moves are going to be even more beneficial to you than others.
We can help you determine the best uses of your stretching time and help you find other methods of relief as well. Simply give us a call at any of our three area offices:
- South Plainfield/Edison – (908) 222-8980
- Hillsborough – (908) 722-3668
- Warren – (732) 356-3668