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THE FIT FOR FOOTWEAR SERIES: THE WARM UP

Words by Ashleigh Wilson

Our feet and ankles are the foundation of our health. This area is a complex, vital and often ignored part of our bodies. The foot and ankle area contains 26 bones, which is a quarter of the bones in the entire human body. It’s sophisticated too, the foot has 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. This demonstrates how fragile this area can be, especially when we develop any misalignment, injuries or strain due to habitual overuse. Because of how interlinked our body’s system is, these discrepancies will not only affect this area, but will almost certainly have a negative knock-on effect on the rest of the body.

Before we jump to any strengthening exercises, let’s make sure to start with a warm up. The aim of warming up the feet and ankles is to mobilise all those joints, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons in order to get them working efficiently and harmoniously. Our feet can cramp up when they are constricted in all types of shoes, but this can happen more if we are fitting them into ill-fitting, illl-designed shoes. To release tension and loosen any stiffness, follow these three exercises slowly and carefully. You can also do this as a warm-up before your day starts or at the end of a long day of walking or standing on your feet. This is important. Put a little love into your feet and ankles, after all, you’re not going to go very far without them.

Warm up exercises (3 minutes)

 

  1. Ankle circles one way, then reverse.

 

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Start seated comfortably with one ankle bent over the underneath leg. Gently grab onto the ball of your foot and steady your other ankle with the opposite hand. Slowly circle your ankle in a clockwise direction. Don’t cut any corners, really open up the ankle joint. Once you’ve done 10 big circles, reverse them to go anti-clockwise. Become aware of any tight spots and put a little extra effort in those areas.

 

  1. Push the ankles back and forth.

 

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Open out the MTP joint (Metatarsophalangeal joint – where the toes meet the rest of the foot) by pressing the toes toward you. Hold for 5 seconds and then repeat the opposite way by pushing the toes back. You are aiming to loosen this joint area as well as stretch the muscles underneath the foot (and then the opposite when pulling the toes the other way, the muscles on top of the foot are being stretched). Always aim to listen to your body, push yourself slightly beyond your comfort zone. You should never feel sharp pain, if you do; there is something to look into.

 

  1. Fingers between toes.

 

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The final warm up exercise is to loosen up all the tiny phalanges (bones of the toes) and everything in-between. Pop each finger in-between each gap of your toes. The aim here is to widen and stretch the toes apart and loosen any tense muscles that may have been overworked. It might feel a little weird the first time you do this, but trust me; your feet will feel amazing afterwards!

Once you’ve completed those three warm up exercises on one foot, switch the other ankle over and do the same. Afterwards, your feet, ankles and toes should feel released, stretched, alive and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.ashleighwilson.net

@ashleighwilsondances

 

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