One of the main goals of chiropractic care is joint movement- everything included from your neck down to your feet! At Well Set we take a holistic approach to treating the body and strive to find the root cause of pain. This approach often leads us to treating not just the spine but extremities as well.
Some of the most overlooked joints in the body are in the feet. There are 28 bones, 33 joints, and about 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your foot. Just like any joint in your body, if these bones are compressed or not moving properly, your feet lose their ability to be flexible and function optimally. If the muscles in the foot are deconditioned from wearing heeled shoes or shoes that do not fit the natural shape of the foot then that can lead to knee or lower back pain.
Mobility stretches and exercises are another great way to help gain motion of our foot and ankle. Mobilizing these areas is highly overlooked and has been shown to help improve form and performance during exercise. Below are two mobility exercises that are great to do before exercise to warm up your foot and ankle properly.
Calf Lacrosse Ball Release
Start in a seated position, place the lacrosse ball in between the calf and hamstring, and grasp with both hands around the top of your foot.
Then, point toes up to the ceiling and then towards the floor. Perform this stretch for about 10-20 reps on each calf.
Foot Arch Lacrosse Ball Release
Place lacrosse ball (or a frozen water bottle!) underneath your foot like pictured above
Roll lacrosse ball around to massage the muscles of the arch
The feet also have a great impact on the body’s proprioception. Proprioception is how your body knows where your arms and legs are in space through sensory receptors in your extremities. Whenever there is decreased function in the feet there is a higher risk of falling injuries and decreased postural stability. Below is an exercise to help improve your overall proprioception.
Standing Proprioception Exercise Progression 1
Once you have mastered progression 1, move on to progression 2!
Stand near a wall or some you can use can for support
Place weight on 3 points of one foot (base of big toe, base of little toe, and heel)
Close your eyes and attempt to lift your opposite foot off the ground and maintain balance on grounded foot
Hold this position for 30 seconds on each foot
Single Leg Box Squat Proprioception Exercise Progression 2
Start exercise by sitting on a workout bench or chair and placing feet out in front of you so your knees are at a 90 degree angle
Place weight on 3 points of one foot, raise other leg up
Stand up of seated position while engaging all the muscles of your one leg
Return to seated position while controlling downward motion
Complete 8-10 reps on leg for 3-4 sets
Chiropractic adjustments are most commonly thought of to treat the spine but we can also use adjustments to treat extremities like the feet as well. There is constant compression put on our ankle and foot joints throughout the day as well as the load that we demand from our muscles and tendons to help us walk, run, and exercise. Foot and ankle adjustments can help increase range of motion of the joints which decreases the risk of injury and prevents foot and ankle pain. If the way we move is compromised by foot and ankle restriction this can lead to other injuries like knee and hip pain.
All these recommendations can be used even in the absence of foot pain to help improve flexibility. Helping the foot maintain healthy function can affect the rest of the joints in your body and help keep you pain free.