The Best Moves for Healthy Feet

Sadly the feet pay the price for your great taste in shoes and your commendable efforts to stay fit. These moves from a sports medicine doctor, a physical therapist and a Pilates teacher will help keep them strong and pain-free.
Photo by Morgan Maassen

By Amy Schlinger

Sadly the feet pay the price for your great taste in shoes and your commendable efforts to stay fit. Not only stilettos, but high-impact sports can also take a toll on feet. (It’s not normal for feet to hurt at the end of a long day.)  These moves from three experts will help keep feet pain-free.

The sports medicine doctor recommends: picking up marbles with toes and placing into bowl

Why it helps: “This exercise helps to strengthen all of the muscles in your foot,” explains Jordan Metzl, MD, sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

How to do it: Dump marbles onto the floor in front of you. One by one, pick up half of marbles using your toes and place them into a bowl. Then pick up other half with the other foot.

The physical therapist recommends: single leg bend and reach with crossover

Why they help: “This exercise works on your balance and your foot’s intrinsic muscles,” explains Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S, co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City. “By crossing the midline with your hand you will be able to target the muscles that control inversion and eversion of the foot.”

How to do them: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms at sides. Lift left leg and bend knee so foot is slightly behind you. Balancing on just right leg, lean forward from hips and reach left hand towards outside of right foot. Return to standing straight on right leg. Repeat. Do 12 reps, then switch sides.

The Pilates teacher recommends: standing heel to toe rocks

Why they help: “This move strengthens and engages your leg muscles, improves your balance and strengthens your feet,” explains Hayley Thorpe, director of Norma Jean Pilates in Sag Harbor, NY.

How to do them: Stand straight with feet hip width apart. Bend your knees slightly, then lift heels slightly up off the floor, straighten your legs and then lower you heels down. Then reverse, lifting heels first, then bending knees, then lowering heels, then straightening legs. Repeat. Do 10 reps in each direction.