It all starts from the bottom...
52 bones, 33 joints, over 100 ligaments, 40 muscles, many tendons connecting the muscles to these bones and 7,000 nerve endings all in your 2 feet! The feet and ankles form the foundation for the entire body. They act as shock absorbers when the body interacts with the ground, and they help the body adapt to the terrain.
The two most important functions of the feet and ankles are to keep the body balanced and to ensure that stress is distributed correctly not only through these structures but throughout the entire musculoskeletal system.
If there is weakness in these areas then they cannot perform these crucial tasks correctly. The foot and ankle structures can become strained and stressed, and compensation patterns elsewhere in the body can become exacerbated making everyday activities and exercise problematic and uncomfortable.
Begin paying attention to your feet and ankles throughout the day. Notice if you over pronate (ankle rolls inward). Look to see if you have any lack of dorsiflexion (inability to flex foot towards the shin)? Do your toes splay out or scrunch inwards? Building awareness in these areas is the first step to correcting imbalances.
Try this foot strength routine at home. You can even do it while brushing your teeth!
Start by standing up tall and pointing your feet straight ahead. Be very meticulous about this; kind of straight is not straight. Look at your second toe and make sure is is pointing straight ahead. Now look at your big toe. Where is it pointing? If it is turned inward, use your hands to pull the toe slightly outward and see if you can keep it there.
Lift all ten toes off the ground. This activates and strengthens the arches in your feet, making your feet stronger so that they will support you better. (image 1)
Raise your pinky toe as high as your big toe without allowing your foot to come off the floor. (image 2)
Press just your big toes down to the ground and keep the other toes lifted. (image 3)
Spread your toes wide and bring the pinky toes down as well. Now just your big toes and pinky toes are on the floor with the middle toes raised. (image 4)
Rest the other toes down. You may repeat this as many times as you wish. I aim for 3-5 times..
Now lift all your toes again and press your big toes into the floor. Keep the other four lifted. (image 3)
Press the four toes down and lift your big toes high without lifting you foot off the ground. (image 2)
Go back and forth, lifting the four toes while pressing the big toe and then lifting the big toes and pressing the others down.
You will be good to fair at one action and not great to terrible in the other. This is revealing your imbalances while strengthening your feet!