Are your feet fatigued? The feet are a pivotal part of the body. They provide mobility, support, and stability through our everyday activities. And yet, many of us do very little to help our tired, aching feet.

Harmful habits such as wearing unsupported, ill-fitted shoes, standing for prolonged periods of time, or exercising in worn-out sneaks can mess with the mechanics of your feet, making your entire body prone to imbalances and injury. When your foot health declines, common conditions occur, such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, hammer toe, or even stress fractures. And when this occurs, misalignments begin to branch up the body, negatively affecting the knees, hips, and lower back. In other words, when your feet stop working, so do you.

Healthy feet are essential for the well-being of the whole body. So stop dragging your feet and finally put your best foot forward with these simple practices:

Kick your heels up. The most obvious and easiest way to help tired feet is to give them a rest when possible. If your job requires long hours of standing or walking, it’s important to tend to tired tootsies once you are home. Simple self-care remedies include soaking your feet in a warm tub or giving them a soothing massage. You don’t need to book a pricey pedicure or spa day to relieve tension and relax muscles. This can be accomplished with just a tennis ball. Here’s how:

  • From a sitting position, rest your foot on top of a tennis ball on the ground and softly roll it around the bottom of your foot, pressing into areas that feel particularly tight. This should not feel painful. If it does, consult your physician.
Foot massage
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Foot massage

Polished nails. While it should go without saying, always trim your toenails. Falcon-like feet can lead to problems such as ingrown toenails. Repetitive force from the front of your shoes can also place considerable pressure on the nail bed, causing the nail to bubble and fall off. Ingrown nails and nail-less toes make this area susceptible to dangerous infections.

If the shoe fits. Healthy feet provide the vital gifts of proper posture, gait and balance. So when feet are dressed in shoddy shoes that provide little to no support, it’s no surprise that they suffer. When purchasing sneakers, consult an associate at a store that specializes in athletic shoes. They can help assess whether you tend to over pronate or over supinate when stepping, or if you have a high or sunken arch. Your shoe should be designed to fit specific to your purpose, whether that be running, walking, cycling, or for everyday, around-the-house use.

Physical foot-ness. Sometimes the arch of the foot falls or flattens. This can occur for a number of reasons, such as obesity, pregnancy, arthritis, or aging.

But just like any other area of the body, the feet need a fitness routine to stay strong. By implementing arch-aiding exercises, you can improve your foot’s ability to support and balance your body weight.

Calf raises

  • Stand near a wall for support and position feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Gently shift your body weight to the balls of your feet as you pull your heels off the floor. Squeeze your calves for two counts then release. Avoid lowering your heels completely to keep slight tension on your calves. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
Calf raise
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Calf raise

Calf stretch

  • Using either a low step or sturdy wall, prop the ball of your foot on the edge of the chosen object.
  • Shift your weight forward so your ankle is flexed and your leg is completely straight. Lightly push your body weight into the front of your foot to feel a stretch in the back of your ankle and calf. Hold for 10 seconds, then release and repeat on the opposite leg.
Calf stretch
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Calf stretch

Play footsies

  • Place a small object on the floor, such as a marble or pencil.
  • Use your toe strength to pick up and put down the object. Try for 10 reps on each side.

Toe-curling

  • From a seated position, place the tennis ball beneath the front of your foot, leaving your heel on the floor.
  • Curl your toes around the ball for several counts then release. Repeat eight times, then switch feet.
Toe curl
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Toe curl

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. To learn more about her virtual training program, go to ashleyblakefitness.com.