Balls are for the good of the feet

Balls are for the good of the feet

I saw a man walking into the grocery store the other day and gingerly stepping on his right forefoot. And all I could think of was….”poor guy, that looks like the plantar fasciitis walk.” Luckily I have never had to experience the pain that comes with plantar fasciitis. However, I have helped plenty of others diagnosed with it, or with the beginning symptoms. Click here for more information on this common ailment of the foot.

The foot takes the brunt of so much force each and every day for us. And athletes feet endure extra pounding. Luckily the foot, with all its muscles and joints is perfectly prepared to not only support us, but propel us forward with each step. Feet are encased in corset like leather shoes for the majority of the day, and then to add misery; a couple of inches of heels. Foot care is more important than you may think. Not only those pretty toes need a little attention, but the 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments and 25 different joints in the foot are begging for a little massage. It is no wonder that once the constricting confines of shoes come off, many people have a rejoicing sigh at the end of the day. I find the best and cheapest massage is with a variety of balls. Big balls, small balls, hard balls or squishy. All come with a different tensile strength to achieve the needed massage for your overworked feet. The squishier the ball, the more gentle of a massage you will get. Think Swedish Massage versus a Deep Tissue Massage.

The great thing I have found about the massage of the feet with a ball, is that your feet really do tell you where they need help and relief. You can find any number of balls – Franklin Ball, racquetball, yoga, tennis, or lacrosse ball (yikes!), you will quickly realize how good it feels. Try putting it under the forefoot. You may find a stretch up into your calf or across the toe line. Roll the ball under the line of where the toes meet the foot. Maybe one side feels a stretch or relief a little stronger. If you have a bunion or the beginning of one, this is an excellent opportunity to help release some of those muscles surrounding the metatarsal. If you roll it around your arch with a little pressure, you can find a release all the way up into your shoulders. Or put it directly under the heel and see what that does. Now, I do not recommend trying that with a lacrosse ball your first time out. If you have any sort of tightness, you will be swearing my name, and I don’t want that. But, try with something squishy first and build up.

The more consistent you are able to be in your massage, the better. Try doing it while sitting down reading this, helping the kids with homework, or while standing and chopping veggies. If you roll one of your feet, then stand up and see if you can tell a difference between your massaged foot/side of body and the other. Do you feel longer on one side? Do you feel more stable on one side?

Proper foot care, allows for more flexibility and balanced strength. The ability to point and flex the foot is most important. As one looses that ability, a person’s gait turns more into a shuffle. When a person shuffles, the gait pattern turns to a dragging of the feet; which is a limited mobility and seen as a falls risk behavior. Now, this is plenty down the line of where you may be at. But, it is important to establish a routine that includes releasing those tight muscles and joints.

See you in the studio,

Natalie

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