Perform 10 repetitions 5 times per day. Once you can perform 10 repetitions of this exercise without losing coordination, progress to the next exercise.
Constrictive shoes and socks coupled with limited barefoot walking can lead to under-activity in the muscles that control the toes. These muscles are integral to the stability and structure of the foot, and are important contributors to running and walking. Weak foot muscles can contribute to many lower limb dysfunctions, including Achilles tendon pain and the formation of bunions. This exercise aims to improve coordination and activity in the muscles of the foot, so that you can integrate them into everyday tasks such as walking, running, and climbing stairs.
This exercise is best performed in bare feet but can be done in shoes or socks throughout the day. First, point the big toe down (flexion), while extending the other toes upwards, and then extend the big toe while pointing the other toes downwards.
This will be challenging at first, and the big toe may seem not to move at all, but the muscles will become more active with practice. You can assist the movement of the toes by using the fingers to flex and extend them while actively trying to engage the foot muscles. As they become more active, start to use them when walking and running. Imagine using the toes to grip the ground as if you were walking in sand. This activation method will help to strengthen the feet and toes.
• Moving the toe down and in. Wearing shoes with a narrow toe box can force the big toe inwards. This leads to weakness of the muscle that draws the big toe outwards. To strengthen this muscle, try to make sure the big toe does not drift inwards when performing the exercise. You may need to use your fingers to help guide the toe at first.
You should be able to perform 10 repetitions of this exercise without losing coordination before progressing.