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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Foot Fitness 101

Few of us think about our feet when we envision obtaining stronger muscles. Many of us wish for bigger, stronger arm and leg muscles and a tighter stomach and buttocks. But, the muscles of your feet are just as important. Here are some interesting facts about your feet:
  • There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and 19 muscles in one foot.
  • Together, the bones in both feet account for about 1/4 of all the bones in your body.
  • The average individual takes approximately 8,000-10,000 steps per day, or about 3 million steps per year.
  • A force of 2-3 times your body weight is exerted on your feet with each step you take.
  • The results of a study by the American Podiatric Medical Association revealed that the feet of a 150 pound individual withstand a force of 63.5 tons per foot when walking just 1 mile.
  • It is estimated that 3 out of every 4 Americans will experience some type of foot problem in their lifetime.
Healthy, strong, and flexible feet can help you to achieve your fitness goals by reducing your risk of developing foot problems/discomfort. Below are some exercises that will help to prevent and alleviate foot ailments.

Golf Ball Roll: Alleviates arch discomfort, foot cramps, and plantar fasciitis (heel pain).
Technique: Place a golf ball (or other small ball) under the ball of one foot. Roll the ball front to back to massage the muscles on the bottom of your foot. Roll the ball for 2 minutes per foot.

Toe Curls: Alleviates toe cramps, discomfort in the ball of your foot, and symptoms of hammertoes.
Technique: Lay a small towel, such as a hand towel, on the floor. Place one foot on the towel. Slowly curl your toes, bringing the towel toward you (the towel should bunch beneath your foot). Relax your foot, straighten the towel and repeat the exercise. Perform 5-8 exercises per foot. Note: to increase the difficulty of this exercise, place a book on the end of the towel to increase the resistance.

Object Pick-Up: Alleviates toe cramps, discomfort in the ball of your foot, and symptoms of hammertoes.
Technique: Place a small object, such as a marble, in front of your foot. Pick it up between your toes. Place it in a bowl or to the side. Perform 10 exercises per foot.

Ankle Eversion (sole of your foot away from your midline) and Inversion (sole of your foot toward your midline) Resistance Exercise: Strengthens the muscles of your ankle and foot.
Technique: Place a resistance band under the ball of your foot. Next move your foot up and out. Hold for a count of 2. Return to the starting position. Then move your foot down and in. Hold for a count of 2. Return to the starting position. That is one set. Perform 5-8 sets per foot.

Foot Writing: Increases ankle range of motion.
Technique: Sit on the floor with one knee bent at 90 degrees and the other crossed over on top. With your foot of the leg on top, write your name (or perform ankle rotations clockwise, then counterclockwise). Relax. Perform 5-8 times per foot.

Walking is another great activity to promote foot health. It not only improves the blood flow to your feet, but it helps to manage body weight, reducing the load placed on your feet. A lack of proper foot care can lead to problems in the future. Keeping your feet healthy and strong is a step in the right direction for overall health.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.


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