Whether from running, non-stop errands, uncomfortable footwear, or some other culprit, we’ve all experienced foot pain at one point or another. To help fight it, we enlisted the creator of the MELT Method, a self-treatment technique that helps people treat chronic pain, Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, and asked her to show us some exercises that we can do to strengthen our feet.
1. Mini soft ball treatment
Stand with your feet side by side, hip-width apart. Close your eyes and notice your feet. Scan up your legs and notice your joints and muscles and whether there’s any tension in the body.
Position point pressing
Step onto a large soft ball (part of the MELT Hand and Foot Treatment Kit) in the middle of the underside of your foot. With your feet side by side, hip-width apart, gently shift your weight on and off the ball 2 to 3 times to find tolerable pressure. Apply tolerable pressure to that point as you take a focused breath. Then place the ball just in front of your heel. Apply tolerable pressure as you take a focused breath.
Keeping your toes on the floor, slowly move the ball from side to side in front of the heel. Glide from side to side as you work your way to the back of the heel and then back to where you started.
With the ball just in front of your heel, wiggle your foot left to right with a slightly heavier compression. The ball should barely move. Hold the compression and take 2 focused breaths.
Place the ball directly under the big toe knuckle. Apply tolerable compression to that point, then press the ball toward your heel in a continuous motion with consistent pressure. Lift your foot to move to the next knuckle. Repeat from each one.
Finally, rub your foot and toes over the ball lightly in a quick, scribble-like motion for about 10 to 15 seconds.
Close your eyes and notice whether you sense any changes in your leg. Repeat all of the techniques on the other foot.
2. Take a friction break
If you have less than a minute, use the large soft ball and rub your foot and toes over the ball lightly in a quick, scribble-like motion for 20 seconds, then switch feet. This wakes up the feet and stimulates the sensory nerves, the lymphatic system, and the superficial connective tissue.
3. Build your foot strength
Place your large soft ball on the floor and try to grab it with your big toe and second toe. Then move the ball under your second and third toes – then third and four toes, and fourth and fifth toes – and repeat the move.
4. Strengthen your arches
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and in line with your sits bones. Keeping the soles of your feet on the floor, slowly open your knees as wide as you can without lifting the heels or the balls of the feet. Pause and take a focused breath, then slowly bring your knees back together. Do 5 repetitions.