Fitness · Health

Barefoot Exercise — How to Stay Light On Your Toes

Jonathan for web

This is another post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, shares  several foot exercises anyone can do to help regain foot health and fitness.


Every dance teacher and many sport coaches will tell you that the mechanics for good performance begins with footwork. Likewise, in everyday life, if you want to keep that bounce in your step and move gracefully, you have to pay attention to your feet. Unfortunately, 75 percent of Americans suffer from one form or another of foot problems during their lifetime. Very few of us are born with foot problems, rather the problems come from neglect, wear and tear, and general weakening from wearing shoes all the time.

Foot problems are extremely common and they reduce quality of life as we age. Most people just accept their feet as they are and don’t think they can change things. But that is not true! If you regularly stretch and train your feet, they can get back their health and make you feel and move better. Below are some things anyone can do to help regain foot health and fitness.

1.      Check your bare feet. Notice if you have overly flexible or stiff toes.

a) Sitting on a chair, lift your feet of the floor and see if you can you spread all your toes apart.
b) With your feet on the ground, can you flex all the toes without lifting the rest of the foot?
c) Next, see if you can point your feet without cramping the toes.
d) With feet back on the floor, lift your heels up as high as you can while keeping the toes on the floor. Can you lift the soles of your feet off to where your have a 90 degree bend at the base of the toes without feeling stress in the toe joints? Can you bend the toes back even further? That could indicate you have excessive flexibility in your toes, which means they are prone to be weak and unstable.
e) Stand up and see if your feet are flat (no arch in the middle of the foot).
f) Lastly, see if you have a turned in big toe, which usually comes with a bunion on the inside of the big toe joint. Some people have this condition worse than others. If you can’t move your big toe at all, you may need to see a podiatrist or orthopedist to fix the problem.

2.     Manipulate, stretch, and massage your feet and toes.

Sit on a chair with your hips close to the front of the chair. Cross one foot over at the knee and hold your foot. Begin circling the foot to loosen the ankle. Then, manually bend your toes forward and back, and pull them apart to loosen them up. If you have a turned in big toe, practice stretching it out to the side. Use your thumbs to massage the inner arch and around your heel. Repeat all this with the other foot.

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  • Roz Warren October 13, 2015 at 10:24 am

    I cannot point my feet without cramping my toes. I should probably check out Urla’s website. Once again, WomensVoices proves to be a terrific source of useful and interesting information.

  • Barbara Ruemenapp October 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Love Jonathan Urlas articles.