It’s easy to overlook our feet. They are the first thing to hit the ground in the morning and the last thing to leave it at night. They willingly carry us for many kilometres even when we stuff them into ill-fitting shoes, thongs, and high heels, and we expect that they will continue to cooperate for the long journey ahead.
The foot is an amazing piece of anatomy. The 26 bones, 33 joints , and 100+ muscles, ligaments and tendons of the ankle and foot enable the balancing act and transfer of weight from the tibia, to the talus, to the calcaneus (heel), all whilst supporting the entire weight of the body. When we walk, run, lift weights, jump etc we rely on our feet to transmit force. The muscles in our feet then tell the muscles in the hips and the trunk to basically get to work.
The sole of the foot (plantar fascia) connects to the calcaneal (Achilles) tendon and then to the fascia covering the calf muscles. Tightness or weakness of the plantar fascia affects the strength and range of motion of the ankle and surrounding musculature. Foot pain is often blamed on fallen arches or plantar fasciitis, but even if your feet never hurt, you may still experience tight tissues that can transfer up the body causing problems in the knees, hips, and spine.
So how do we sort it out? Each day spend some time working on the fascia of your feet. Grab a golf ball, tennis ball or lacrosse ball (or one of the many expensive purpose designed foot rolling devices), and spend some time firmly rolling the foot over the ball. Roll in circular patterns in all directions, spread your toes and give your feet some tough love. Trust me, it won’t be pretty, but it is going to do wonders for the tissues of the feet. And don’t forget your calf or shin muscles. Use a foam roller or similar device to roll the muscles of the calf and shin. This simple addition to your daily routine will make a great difference to your performance.