6LidmBf4FgMn0I_PCZqRVly5Rjz5NUJHQ4IrKt0K1lIDuring the last 4 columns we’ve discussed general running guidelines to help you design a running program to prepare you for the local, popular runs, the Portland Marathon and the Girlfriends Run for a Cure that will have thousands of runners and walkers participating from around the Northwest this fall.

Today (week 5), I wanted to talk about your feet and how important they are to running.  As you run, the muscles of your feet and lower limb absorb the forces of up to three times your body weight.  So let’s say you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 450 pounds of force with each stride!  So it’s clear that the foot is important but very few people actually work on strengthening their feet and even though it’s one of the most important areas for runners, it’s the most neglected!

Here’s some tips to strengthening your feet and many you can do anywhere so shouldn’t take extra time:

Towel Crunches:

Lay a towel flat on the floor in front of you.  Place your bare feet on the towel edge closest to you and then curl your toes pulling the towel closer and closer to you.  Continue this exercise for a couple minutes. It’s an easy one to do while you’re watching TV or reading.  Some runners will do this in the shower with a wet towel making it heavier and more challenging.

Ball Curls:

Take a small soft ball like a Hacky Sac and squeeze your toes around the ball.  Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Toe Taps:

Tap your toes as fast as you can pulling your toes close to your shin. Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Bare foot Heel Raises:

Lift your heels quickly pressing up onto your toes.  Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Perform the above exercises 2-3x/week. Here’s some other tips to strengthen your feet.

Barefoot Conditioning:

One way to condition your feet is to be barefoot as often as you can.  So walk around the house barefoot and in the summer look for opportunities to take off your shoes. Participate in activities like are conducive to bare feet like Yoga or Nia dance. I even like to strength train bare foot when appropriate. Progress into minimalist, flexible shoes if appropriate for your foot anatomy.  And if you are going to try high impact, barefoot activities, progress very slowly into these activities to make sure your muscles, bones and connective tissue are strong enough for the forces.

Correct Toes:

Consider investing in products that will better align your feet and enable them to function more effectively. This product, Correct Toes TM, is designed to stretch your toes and space them more effectively which would be very beneficial for runners. And the beauty of the product is you exercise your feet while you’re going about your day doing other stuff and I often will even wear them to bed.   https://nwfootankle.com/correct-toes

Athletic shoes that are flexible and have a wide toe box:

You should be able to bend your athletic shoes which would allow your feet to function as they were designed. Your toe box should be wide allowing your toes to spread versus get crunched.  Many professionals suggest going a half size to full size bigger than you think you wear.  I actually have started taking my insole out of my shoes giving my feet more room to spread out.

Avoid High-heel, rigid shoes:

Try to avoid wearing any shoe that has a very high heel to toe ratio and is very rigid which can negatively affect the anatomy of the foot.  Ladies, I know we like to be cute with our high heels and stilettos but it really does negatively affect our feet so try to wear these types of shoes for only special occasions (definitely not daily) and avoid walking in long distances while wearing them.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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