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When your legs feel sore after moving furniture, the typical reaction is: “my legs feel weak, I need to train them!” But when your feet feel sore after a long walk, the typical reaction is: “My feet hurt, I need more support in my shoes.” And not, “my feet are weak, I need to strengthen them.” Most people give no thought to foot training.

Why is that? There are over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons in your feet, supporting 26 bones and 33 joints. The feet are quite literally the foundation of the body. But instead of wanting to make them strong and agile, we cripple them by shoving them into ill-fitting shoes and using external supports whenever possible.

Let’s change that conversation.

The muscles in the feet can be trained, just like your quads and your biceps can. Weak feet can become strong feet. Along the same lines, stiff and immobile feet can become supple and mobile feet. It just takes some time and effort. If you’re looking for a way to train your feet so they can hold their own, this video is for you:

The only equipment you’ll need is a lacrosse ball. A tennis ball or massage ball works too. Also, the last drill is a rock walk. If you have a rock garden, then perfect! You could substitute any other kind of textured landscaping or flooring in order to change the information traveling through your feet. We evolved walking over landscapes with diverse texture, not just FLAT ground. Grass or sand can be easier to start out on, so if your feet feel really stiff and painful walking barefoot over rocks, start on something gentler.

You can begin your foot training with just one or all of these movements. Try them in the morning, just after you get out of bed, and notice how your feet feel throughout the day. If you’ve got a regular strength training routine, do this first. Then, keep your shoes off and train barefoot. Depending on your workout routine, you might actually feel your performance improve since you’ll have better proprioception through your feet.

Personal trainer, student of movement, and outdoor explorer in the Pacific Northwest

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