If you’ve got a good pre-workout stretching routine in place, chances are that you work your way down from your neck to your ankles, giving all of the muscles in between the ooey-gooey love they need to get you going. But the one muscle you’re probably forgetting, way down there at the very bottom? Your feet. And according to Nike run coach Traci Copeland, that’s a big mistake.
“Feet always get overlooked—we warmup everything else, but we don’t think about our feet enough,” she says. “But [stretching your feet] is great for injury prevention, and a great way to warm your body from the ground up.”
There’s nothing worse than dealing with foot pain, which tends to set in after your workout and can keep you out of the gym (and literally off of your feet) for days or even weeks. In order to prevent it, Copeland suggests cycling through a few foot stretches before diving into your exercise routine.
While taking the time to treat your feet might not sound all that exciting, keep in mind foot stretches can do a lot more for your body than just warming up your soles—they’ve got benefits for your entire lower body. Walking on your tiptoes, for example, provides ankle stability, walking on your heels stretches out your calves and Achilles, and toe flexions stretch your hamstrings and shins.
To try some foot stretch exercises of your own, follow along with Copeland in the video above. Then, say goodbye to post-workout foot pain forever.
Pre-workout foot stretch exercises
1. Tiptoe walk: Get high up on your tip toes—as if you were wearing an imaginary pair of high heels—and walk back and forth across your mat for 30 seconds.
2. Heel walk: Sink back into your heels to raise your toes off of the mat, and walk back and forth across your mat for 30 seconds.
3. Toe flexion, right: Standing with your left leg bent, extend your right leg slightly out in front of you with your toes flexed toward the sky. Bend your body forward to grab your toes with your hand, and pull them toward you. Hold for 30 seconds.
4. Toe flexion, left: Switch legs and repeat the move on the other side for 30 seconds.
5. Kneeling hamstring stretch, right: Come down to your left knee and extend your right leg out in front of you with your toes flexed toward the sky. Sit your hips back on top of your left knee and lean forward over your front foot. Hold for 30 seconds.
6. Kneeling hamstring stretch, left: Switch legs and repeat the move on the other side for 30 seconds.
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