Until recently, I was unaware of the fact that exercising the muscles in my feet could help improve my balance. I’ve noticed mine isn’t as good as it used to be. It’s a situation aggravated by years of knee problems—I’ve had surgeries on each of them for a torn meniscus as well as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my right knee. Football players will commiserate! Nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy is also to blame.
Sports have played a huge role in my life, starting as a child who loved skiing, playing tennis and more seriously, playing competitive badminton both provincially, nationally and against international teams from the age of ten until I was twenty-six. Throw in years of mountain climbing, hiking and trekking in the Himalayas and what did I expect? I’m now seven months shy of 70 and well aware that my knees, hips and feet have taken a severe beating over the years. And with that, so has my stability. Often I feel completely off-balance!
Physiotherapy Can Help
After taking a few appointments with a really terrific physiotherapist recently, I was enlightened by him about building up the muscles in my feet and toes to help me recover better stability, balance and improve my mobility.
What a surprise! He’s given me four simple exercises to do to strengthen my feet which should, ultimately, improve my balance and lessen the likelihood of a fall. According to my doctor, strong feet/ankles equals better balance.
Perhaps by doing these exercises it will enable me to walk more confidently, especially on uneven ground or terrain such as a sandy beach. Maybe I’ll get to resume some light hiking or simply be able to walk down a hill without feeling like I’ll fall over!
Improve Your Balance With These Easy Foot Exercises
You can start out by doing these exercises while seated and once you feel more confident that your feet are getting stronger, do them standing up. Consider holding onto a railing or a stable chair back at first as it will give you a more secure feeling while doing them standing up.
- Use your big toe to draw circles or make designs in the sand at the beach. If you can’t get to the beach, try the local park, or you can create your own ‘sand box’ for use at home by filling a flat cardboard box with fine sand. Or lift your leg and draw the letters of the alphabet in the air with your toes and foot.
- While seated, use your toes to try to pick up small items such as a pencil, a washcloth or other small items or toys. I have a little spongy ball I got at Sports Experts which is really handy to use as I can actually grip it with my toes. A small bean bag might also work.
- Roll a small rubber or tennis ball under one foot for 5 minutes then the other while standing or seated and keep it under control.
- Heel-to-toe walking is another way to improve your balance. This video shows you how to do it.
Ageing has its challenges for everyone, especially for those of us who’ve been or still are, super active in sports. Over the decades our knees, hips, shoulders, backs and, well, our whole musculoskeletal frame has probably suffered as a result. Finding ways to do restorative exercises is very important in order to maintain our mobility as we navigate old age. Let’s stay on our feet, shall we?