Taking care of your feet can allow them to reach their full potential

·3 min read

How much do you really know about your feet?

Glenn Diuvinagracia, a physical therapist at Meritus Total Rehab Care, has offered some groundwork on how our feet work to take us far and wide and often to interesting places.

The foot can generally be divided into three major parts. The forefoot is the part farthest from your body and comprises the ball of the five long bones and the five toes.

Glenn Diuvinagracia, a physical therapist at Meritus Total Rehab Care
Glenn Diuvinagracia, a physical therapist at Meritus Total Rehab Care

The midfoot is the middle part and houses the smaller bones of the foot that form the arches.

The hindfoot or rearfoot is the back part of the foot and makes up the heel and the ankle.

The toes are numbered from one to five. The big toe is referred to as toe No. 1 and the smallest or the pinky toe is toe No. 5.

The arches of the feet provide stability and shock absorption as we perform weight-bearing activities like standing, walking or jumping. The bones and joints are held by strong ligaments, flexible muscles and tendons and connective tissue called fascia.

The medial arch is on the inner side of the foot and the lateral arch is on the outer side. There are two transverse arches, one found distally near the toes and the other proximally near the heel.

There are thousands of nerve endings in the feet, more per square foot than anywhere else in the body, except for the hand.

The foot can generally point up toward your nose (dorsiflexion) or point away from it (plantarflexion). Your foot can move side to side. Flexing your foot inwards — as if trying to look at the sole of the foot — toward the center of the body is called inversion, and moving it to the opposite direction is called eversion.

There are 26 bones and 33 joints in the foot. The combination of these structures make the foot versatile in its movement and adaptable in supporting the body in varying terrain. The foot is extremely dynamic in adapting and conforming to terrain.

“Somehow, most of us have lost the dynamic nature or dynamism of foot movements and adaptability by confining our feet to shoes daily or constantly walking on just flat surfaces,” Diuvinagracia said. “Our feet have thousands of nerve receptors and crave more interesting stimuli.”

Diuvinagracia suggests the following exercises for your feet:

The Toes Fanning motion — Place your feet on the floor, barefoot. Lift the big toe up while keeping the smaller toes pressed on the floor, then put it back down on the floor. Now lift the smaller toes up while keeping the big toe planted on the floor. Repeat. Big toe up and down. Do this 10 to 20 times or until you can do one cycle per second. This helps strengthen the foot muscles and helps with coordination.

The Toes Spread and Squeeze exercise — Start with your foot on the floor, barefoot. Spread your toes apart by moving each toe away from each other. Be careful not to lift the toes off the floor. Then squeeze them together letting the sides of the toes touch each other. Repeat 10 to 20 times then move to the other foot. You can assist the movement with your fingers and as you develop the movements over time, gradually letting go.

“If you develop a cramp while exercising your feet, just relax and gently stretch your toes and softly massage in between the long bones in the midfoot, then rest for a while,” Diuvinagracia said.

Meritus Total Rehab Care offers outpatient rehabilitation services at two locations in Hagerstown: 11110 Medical Campus Drive in Robinwood Professional Center, suite 201, at the Purple entrance and at Meritus Medical Plaza, 13620 Crayton Blvd. To learn more, please call 301-714-4025 or visit https://www.meritushealth.com/treatment-care/rehabilitation/meritus-total-rehab-care/.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Information, exercises can get our feet to take us far and wide

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