Your feet possess an impressively responsive articular system that allows the freedom of motion and agility required for activities of daily living and more dynamic physical activity and sports. Hence the importance of strengthening your foot intrinsic muscles throughout your life in order to retain their resiliency. Indeed, proper exercises will improve endurance, balance and mobility.
Whether you are a runner, a dancer, or need to be able to go up a flight of stairs to reach your home, well-trained foot muscles are an asset in order to avoid weakness, imbalance, to prevent falls, ankle sprains, hammer toes and other pathologies.
Intrinsic muscles: stabilizers of the foot and ankle
There are two types of muscles in the foot. Extrinsic muscles originate from the leg and their tendons insert on the foot while intrinsic muscles originate from and insert in the foot itself. The intrinsic muscles provide compressive forces across the joint to allow proper flexion and extension of the toes for adequate stability and propulsion. Furthermore, they absorb and restore energy during motion. These muscles are termed abductors, adductors, flexors and extensors and they constitue the core muscles of the foot, just as the abdominals and the fine muscles of the spine are the core muscles of the torso and abdomen. If these core muscles are weak, general instability and postural problems leading to injury may arise. A strong core reduces fatigue and prevents falls.
Foot intrinsics exercise program
Regardless if your objective is rehabilitation of a current ailment such as an ankle sprain or is to keep your feet healthy, the advice of a podiatrist is welcome.
A personalized exercise program can be prescribed to you to address your situation. Weak foot intrinsic muscles is evidenced with strength testing via a dynamometer of with the paper prehension test, which consists in keeping a sheet of paper under your foot while the examiner tries to dislodge it.
A useful exercise sequence is illustrated in the following video and goes along the following:
1.Dissociation of the toes
2.Spreading the toes while keeping them parallel to the floor
3.Squeezing toe separators
4.Gathering a piece of paper or towel using only your toes
Classic intrinsic muscle training encompasses muscle strengthening, proprioception, manual therapy, and motor control and coordination. It may include isometric, concentric, eccentric and plyometric exercises.
This article and accompanying video is for you if:
You experience poor control over your feet;
You wish to prevent recurrence of injury or sprains;
You practice a sport which sollicitas your feet;
Your preferred physical activity requires balance and motor control
Here is the link for the video: https://youtu.be/nWCcEzXsjyM
Do not hesitate to visit your sports podiatrist!