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A Podiatrist Is Begging You To Stretch This Unexpected Body Part To Relieve Foot Pain

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Photo: Getty Images/Peter Dazeley
Feet are perhaps the most over-worked, under-valued part of the human body. Walking, running, dancing, stretching — you’d be hard-pressed to find a single physical activity that does not rely on your feet for strength and support. But all too often, we forget to protect our little friends on the floor from injury and over-use. We take them for granted. That is, however, until they start to send us little signals in the form of throbbing, aching, and tightness—their way of telling us they need a little extra love.

If your feet are already in pain, Jackie Sutera, DPM, a podiatrist with Vionic Labs, says there are a few possible culprits. She lists water retention, ill-fitting shoes or socks, and end-of-day as some of the most common ones she sees. “Some other common reasons are walking barefoot too much, overuse injuries, and using the wrong shoes for certain activities,” she adds.

Regardless of why foot pain has suddenly descended on your life like a black cloud, there is one sure-fire way to help: stretching. “Stretching helps to loosen the connective soft tissue that holds our bones and joints together,” says Dr. Sutera. “When these are loose and limber, it reduces the chance of injury, inflammation, and pain.”

While it's important to give your actual feet a good stretch on the reg, there's another pair of body parts Dr. Sutera suggests focusing on to best relieve pain in the area: your calves. “I would argue that calf stretches are the most important for the overall foot," she says. "This will lengthen and loosen both the Achilles and plantar fascia — two very important structures that will cause inability to walk properly and pain if there is a problem." Luckily there are two excellent calf-stretches that may already be a part of your workout routine: downward dog and lunges with a straight back leg.

Couple these moves with a forefoot stretch (grab your big toe joint in one hand, your pinky toe joint in the other, and pull them apart slightly) and a stretch for the ball of your foot (bend all five of your toes, together back toward the top of your foot, then forward toward the bottom of your foot), and foot pain will be a thing of the past.

For more foot stretches, let Nike master trainer Traci Copeland take you through this 5-minute mobility routine.

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