Exercise(s) of the week: Foot Strength Part 4

Welcome back to the foot strength mini-series for Part 4. If you haven't had a chance to dive in to previous posts, find them here:

A) Part 1

B) Part 2

C) Part 3




In today's segment, Part 4, let's follow up on some more foot strength exercises that we started in Part 3. During this blog, we will show you a few exercises for athletes and general population alike that we have found are helpful in improving more than "just" foot strength.


Do you tend to see excessive pronation at the foot, internal rotation at the shin and knee, and a Trendellenburg gait (hip drop) in your running or walking? This is a question that both athletes and general population clients of ours tend to have when they come in for an assessment. How do we know? We watch them run or walk:


A) Good example of Trendellenburg gait and knee and ankle collapse:

B) Good example of excessive pronation at the ankle:


C) Another good example of hip collapse, but ankle collapse and knee alignment is not looking too bad:


So, watching people move, and identifying parts of their mechanics that we don't like is the easy part, but are they fixable? Yes - and we've done it time and time again. Here's some real time sprinting examples on Instagram of clients who have improved running mechanics, and decreased pain enough to increase the treadmill speed substantially. You'll be impressed to know that these improvements happened in approximately 3 months, coming to see us 1x/week.


How did we do it? A combination of individual programming, mobility, strength, and retraining movement patterns. Part of our focus, in each of these client examples, included foot strength, landing mechanics, or foot mobility focuses. So, we will dive in to a few of the exercises we use for the strength portion, depending on the client:

  1. Foot scrunches with and without towel - COVERED IN PART 3

  2. Big toe lift offs


3. All-but-big toe lift offs


4. Foot scrunches without big toe



As promised in Part 3 of this blog series, we will include a BONUS exercise.


This last one is another isolated foot exercise that can help you improve your mechanics in standing, running, walking, and almost all dynamic movements, plus can often improve a wide range of lower body mechanical and pain issues that our clients present with.


5. Short Foot


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REFERENCES Hamel, A. J., Donahue, S. W., & Sharkey, N. A. (2001). Contributions of Active and Passive Toe Flexion to Forefoot Loading From the *Center for Locomotion Studies, the **Depart-ment of Mechanical Engineering, the † Department of Ki-nesiology, and the. CLINICAL ORTHOPAEDICS AND RELATED RESEARCH Number (Vol. 393).


Heiderscheit, B. C. (2010). Lower extremity injuries: is it just about hip strength? The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 40(2), 39–41. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2010.0102


Matias, A. B., Taddei, U. T., Duarte, M., & Sacco, I. C. N. (2016). Protocol for evaluating the effects of a therapeutic foot exercise program on injury incidence, foot functionality and biomechanics in long-distance runners: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-016-1016-9


McKeon, P., Hertel, J., Bramble, D., Davis, I. (2015). British Journal of Sports Medicine. 290, 29(5). DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092690


Powell, D. W., Williams, D. S. B., Windsor, B., Butler, R. J., & Zhang, S. (2014). Ankle work and dynamic joint stiffness in high- compared to low-arched athletes during a barefoot running task. Human Movement Science, 34(1), 147–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2014.01.007


Rodrigues, P., Chang, R., TenBroek, T., Van Emmerik, R., & Hamill, J. (2015). Evaluating the coupling between foot pronation and tibial internal rotation continuously using vector coding. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 31(2), 88–94. https://doi.org/10.1123/JAB.2014-0067


Taddei, U. T., Matias, A. B., Ribeiro, F. I. A., Bus, S. A., & Sacco, I. C. N. (2020). Effects of a foot strengthening program on foot muscle morphology and running mechanics: A proof-of-concept, single-blind randomized controlled trial. Physical Therapy in Sport, 42, 107–115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ptsp.2020.01.007