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Dallas Podiatry Works

Fitness and Your Feet

Thinking about fitness may conjure up images of early morning infomercials.  Programs like Zumba and P90X focus on cardio and strength training for the body. While the feet are subjected to quick, dance inspired steps and the added pressure of training with weights, feet specific exercises are virtually non-existent in these types of workouts.  Your feet are required to work hard each day.  As the foundation of the body, every pound of weight and pressure is felt in your toes, arches, ankles, and heels. 

Why is it important to keep my feet in top shape? 

Keeping Feet in ShapeEven if an exercise plan isn’t designed with the feet in mind, working out is an important part of maintaining your overall health and the health of your feet.  The circulatory system receives a boost when the heart rate is increased.  In response to elevated activity levels, the body requires more oxygen which in turn signals the heart to provide more blood.  The body’s overall circulation is improved.

Physical activity also maintains healthy cholesterol levels.  If left unchecked, plaque build-up can lead to hypertension and increase the risk of stroke.  The feet are prone to decreased circulation since they are so far from the heart.  This can be problematic if other factors inhibit the flow of blood, because it carries the properties necessary for the body’s natural healing response. 

Maintaining a healthy weight is another benefit.  Obesity can lead to fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, and other painful conditions of the feet.  If you want to lose weight, exercise will not only help you to reach your goals, it will also benefit your feet.

Do my shoes matter?

Before you begin a focused foot routine, check out the condition of the footwear you utilize during your normal workout.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How old are my shoes?  If you’re a runner, how many miles have you logged in your favorite footwear?
  • Do they fit well?  If you haven’t had your feet measured in a long time, your size may have changed.  Feet tend to get bigger with age, and shoes that are too small can be blamed for many instances of foot pain.  Remember that shoes worn during exercise need to accommodate the forward movement of the feet—so allow space for your toes!  Runners are often advised to purchase shoes that are half a size larger than their regular shoe size. 
  • Are they designed for this activity?  You wouldn’t wear bowling shoes to play tennis, but many people wear tennis shoes to run or cross-train.  Make sure that you have footwear designed with your workout in mind.

What exercises will keep my feet in top condition?

Try these exercises for the feet. The beginning position for these stretches is as follows: Begin on the floor lying on your back.  Your feet should be flat and spread the distance of your hips, keeping your heels about 24 inches away. Now, try these exercises.

First, focus on your arches by raising them and then releasing.  Now, slide your heels closer to your hips, and then repeat moving your feet back to the beginning position.  Next, start from the same position and carefully turn the feet from the inside edges to the outer edges.  Move the feet apart once again and repeat.  Finally, work the ankle and the rest of the foot by rolling it from heel to toe until the heel is lifted completely.  Complete this exercise ten times.

If lying on your back is difficult, try simple ankle rolls while sitting.  You can also place a towel on the floor, and gather it up using your toes.  Pointing and flexing the toes will give your feet a stretch as well. 

The cycle of keeping your feet in shape and fighting foot pain can be vicious.  If your fitness plans have been derailed by pain, don’t wait another day to seek help.  Drs. Brook and Northcutt understand that the health of your feet is closely tied to your overall fitness.  With convenient offices in Dallas and Plano, TX, our professional staff is ready to help you achieve your exercise goals—without foot pain!  Schedule an appointment today!


Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.