People often neglect their feet, even though they are so important. They connect us to the ground, and this is where many problems start. Warming up your feet before a workout is just as important as warming any other joint.
Why is it Important to Warm Up Your Feet?
Since your feet take the brutal effect of your body against the ground in the many positions you put them in, why not prepare them properly for the experience? The feet are made up of 26 bones, they are the primary centers for balance and they manage your center line of gravity as you huff and puff and run all around.
The feet have several muscle attachments, are well vascularized and have a lot of important fascia. Soles of the feet are extremely sensitive with an average of 200,000 nerve endings per foot. The largest and strongest tendon in the body, the Achilles, is responsible for all the propulsion you do. It attaches at the heel and continues through the sole of the foot, wrapping around the spaces between your toes and attaching at the plantar surface of the foot, between the toes.
How to Warm Up Your Feet for a Workout
In a good warm-up, all of these aspects should be considered. This method of warming up the feet is called the Franklin method, taught by Eric Franklin.
Start by standing, simply being aware of the sensations in your feet. There is little else to do here! This brings your mind to the attention of your feet, making the nervous system aware of them.
Take a ball — not a golf ball, but a soft ball that gives, like a very soft lacrosse ball or a small tennis ball — and place it under the foot. Start with a general massage. Simply roll the ball anywhere under one foot, working all aspects, rolling back and forth. The level of pain should be… non-existent! Avoid discomfort and heavy pressure. More pain does not give more gain here. 10 rolls should be adequate on each foot.
Forefoot rotations: place the ball under the forefoot, around the base of the toes and fix the heel to the floor. Internally and externally rotate from your hip, moving the ball from the little toe to the big toe. As you rotate medially and the ball moves to the outside of the foot, bring the big toe down toward the floor as well. Same with the little toe on external rotation. Again, avoid pain. Perform 10 rotations.
Forefoot rotations with upward motion: here, you’ll perform the same as the previous; but rather than bring the toes toward the floor, pick them up to the ceiling. Keep the heel fixed and only go as far as you are comfortable. Try to gain a little range each rotation.
Point-flex: keeping the ball under your forefoot, point your toes downward, plantar-flexing. Then turn your toes up, dropping your heal to the floor, dorsi-flexing. This is also a good warm-up and stretch for your Achilles and calf muscles.
Toe scrunches: as the name suggests, you are going to scrunch up your toes to squeeze the ball like you want to pick it up. Keep the ball under the forefoot and give it a hug, holding the contraction for four to eight seconds. Repeat five to seven times.
Heel circles: now work the ball back toward the heel and keep the toes planted on the floor. Do 10 circles in both directions, slowly rolling over all aspects of the heel, initiating movement from your hip.
Step-ups: finally, place the ball directly under the arch of the foot and bear down on it. If you have a very soft ball, put all your weight on it. Try to balance on the one foot for a few seconds, if possible.
Before switching feet, see if it made a difference. Stand on both feet again, then on one foot.
After both feet have been rolled out, complete the warm-up with a few small, rapid jumps, jump squats and single-leg movements. You should be all set to start your workout.