One of the downsides of getting older is that many things start getting weaker… and one of them is your feet. And the decreased balance and stability that accompanies weak feet increases your chances of falling.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of four adults over 65 fall each year. And that's not good. So what can you do? Improving your foot mobility is a great starting point.
"The more mobile your feet are, the more solid your standing, walking and running will be," says Aaron Guyett, CSCS, director of education at Living.Fit. And there's no better way to do that than to incorporate foot mobility exercises into your daily routine.
Below, Guyett demonstrates eight of the best foot mobility exercises that will level up your balance and stability in no time. Ready? Find some floor space (and perhaps a yoga mat) and give this a try.
Try This 5-Minute Foot Mobility Sequence
Do: each of the following moves for 30 to 45 seconds. If needed, you can break the sets up into 10-second intervals to help you establish and maintain your balance.
“Don't be discouraged if you're unable to do one of the exercises, as it may take a while for your central nervous system and peripheral nervous system to connect," Guyett says. "This is very normal for people that have been wearing shoes and not mobilizing their feet.”
1. Heel Walk
- Walk forward and backward while keeping only your heels in contact with the ground.
This move mobilizes your ankle joint and strengthens the anterior tibialis (part of your shin), which helps with walking and running.
2. Toe Walk
- Walk forward and backward while keeping only your toes and the balls of your feet in contact with the ground.
This helps mobilize your toes and strengthen your calves — both of which you need for running and walking.
3. Lateral Foot Walk
- Walk forward and backward while keeping only the outside of your feet in contact with the ground.
This strengthens your ankles and feet, as well as your hips, which helps improves the stability of your lower body.
4. Midline or Inside Foot Walk
- Walk forward and backward while keeping only the inside of your feet in contact with the ground.
This strengthens the ankles and knees and builds stability in the lower body during activities like running and walking.
5. Foot Rocking Front to Back
- Rock from the heel of your feet forward to the balls of your feet and toes, then rock back.
This improves mobility of the ankles, while improving the strength and stability of the ankles, calves and anterior tibialis (shin).
6. Foot Rocking Side to Side
- Rock your feet from the outside toward the inside of the feet, then back to the outside.
This exercise improves the strength and stability of your feet, ankles, knees and hips.
7. Toe Spread
- With your focus on one foot, spread all of your toes and hold for 3 seconds, then repeat for the allotted time.
This is a great way to improve mobility, stability and strength of the toes and feet.
8. Toe Towel Pull
- With your feet and toes, pull a paper towel or towel toward your heel using the effort of only one foot at a time, then switch to the other foot.
This exercise will improve mobility and coordination while helping you build stability and strength in your feet and toes.