A Simple Foot Fitness Exercise To Help Your Heels & Improve The Alignment of Your Feet
The position of your feet, ankles & heels is vital for better foot fitness and a healthy body. Foot and ankle alignment can affect posture, gait, the way you move, walk, and run. Poor foot alignment can also increase your risk of injury, causing foot pain, knee pain, and even back pain. You may be doing foot exercises, but have you ever really paid attention to your heels? A lot can be happening at the heels that can affect good functional movement, the ability to move the ankles freely, and maintain injury-free feet.
Let’s use this easy Seated Heel Lift Exercise to notice what your heels are doing when you rise up on your toes and lower you heels.
Seated Heel Lift & Lower Foot-Fitness Exercise
*Start sitting in a chair.
*Place a mirror in front of you so you can see your feet AND sit tall with good posture.
*Take your shoes and socks off, to watch your bare feet.
*Start with your knees and feet hip-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.
*In this position, can you see your heels? Ideally they should be hidden behind the rest of your foot.
*Do you notice the weight more on the outside or inside of your heels?
*To make corrections to “hide your heels” did your knees drift in or out?
The goal is to hide the heels and keep the knees and toes facing straight ahead, so the heels make the adjustment. However, if when you start to move your heels, the whole leg shifts, you may find it challenging to actually get the heels to hide behind your foot! Right now just start noticing what your feet, heels, and legs want to do versus optimal alignment.
Now, continue to maintain good posture while still seated and let's do the Seated Heel Lift & Lower Exercise:
*Inhale and lift the heels to rise up on the tippy-toes.
*Exhale to lower the heels back to the floor.
*Repeat for 8-15 repetitions.
Pay Attention to your Heels During the Exercise and Answer the Following Questions
*In the lifted tippy-toe position, are your heels still hidden?
*Do your ankles line up directly over the toes with the heels hidden, or do you notice the ankles wobble in and/or out as you lift & lower the heels?
*As you lowered your heels, did they stay hidden?
*Is it easy to keep the knees in a parallel position (in line with the hips and shoulders)? Or as you are attempting to hide the heels, do your knees try to make the change?
If for any of these questions you answered NO, some heel stretching activities will be beneficial to help keep your feet aligned. Ideally we should be able to rise up on our toes and lower our heels while maintaining proper alignment with your heels hidden throughout. Then, this functional movement habit should transfer to our other daily life activities like walking or running.
How difficult is it for you to keep your heels hidden and lift & lower your heels? If it’s a challenge with this easy seated exercise, imagine how difficult it’s going to be to maintain good heel and ankle alignment when you’re standing up with your full body weight on your feet!
Correcting Foot, Heel, and Ankle Alignment is Easier Seated then Standing
*In a standing position, our feet carry all our body weight, thus making it difficult to make an adjustment. The body will defer to its normal habits and patterns of movement. Easier to make changes and develop new habits with new exercises in lesser weight-bearing positions.
*Standing we are also fighting against gravity to stay upright. Gravity is still an issue seated, but we’re not having to lift the whole body up to re-train the feet and muscles of the lower leg.
*The muscle use “habits” we have in a standing position, will be challenging to change in that position. Seated we’re supporting less of our body weight so it can be easier to make adjustments.
*It’s difficult to SEE our feet standing (or seated) to spot-check alignment without a mirror. Bending over to look down at your feet and watch your exercises completely changes your posture position.
*Balance is an issue. New muscle habits will require new muscle use – If you have to focus on not falling over, it will distract you from finding the right stuff to retrain your habits. Seated takes balance out of the equation so it’s easier to focus on form and function.
Begin practicing this simple Seated Heel Lift & Lower Exercise improve body awareness and begin improving the alignment of your feet to “hide your heels” while working through a full-range of motion for the foot and ankle. Help improve body mechanics to stay strong, safe, and injury-free. This easy exercise can help improve your balance, body awareness, and gait to walk and run with better form and improved function.
Pilates training gives you lots of opportunities to pay attention to the alignment of your heels while lifting and lowering the feet. This simple Seated Heel Lift is an exercise you can practice at home to continue reinforcing your improved foot fitness habits in-between Pilates sessions.
Foot fitness can help keep you healthy from the ground up. Enhance optimal wellness and enjoy improved whole-body health by taking the time to add simple foot care exercises to your weekly workout routine!
Click here to see Aliesa’s video demonstration of this Seated Heel Lift Exercise: http://youtu.be/16waLnaPjrM
For additional foot fitness exercise resources from Aliesa George checkout the book Fantastic Feet, The Super-Ankle Foot-Fit Board, and the RunfitTM Kit at Centerworks.com - http://www.centerworks.com/store/category/foot-care-products/
Aliesa George is the founder of Centerworks® Pilates. She is an author, workshop presenter, and mind-body health expert with more than 25 years of experience designing solutions for health improvement. Aliesa has created a wide variety of products focused on Pilates, Foot Fitness, the Mind-Body Connection, Stress-Management, and Whole-Body Health. She enjoys helping others discover the connection between thought and action to get positive results and achieve goals for a healthy mind, body and spirit!