Techniques for Maintaining Healthy Toes
If you have ever suffered a toe injury or even mild toe discomfort, you know how debilitating the loss of function in just one toe can be. Since the toes bear the brunt of our daily walking and exercise, keeping the toes fit and supple is a top priority for maintaining podiatric health. Whether you have a toe condition or simply want to prevent one from occurring, there are a number of toe exercises that can strengthen the toes and help prevent injury.
Samples of toe exercises
The following toe exercises are useful for maintaining the toes’ flexibility. They are particularly useful for treating hammertoes, toe cramps, ball-of-foot pain, and other toe problems related to over-constricting the foot muscles.
- Pointing and flexing your toes: Exercise each toe, one by one. Point the toe, hold for 10 seconds, then flex the toe and hold for 10 seconds.
- Squeezing your toes: Use your toes to hold a small cork or other pliable object. Squeeze the object for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Strengthening your toes: There are several toe-strengthening exercises you can perform, including:
- Place a rubber band around all five toes on each foot. Splay the toes and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Place a small towel on the floor in front of you. Grip the towel with your toes and pull it toward you. (You can also place a weight on the end of the towel for added resistance.) Repeat five times.
- Place 20 marbles on the floor in front of you. Using your toes, pick the marbles up, one at a time.
- Massaging and relaxing your toes: Some options for relaxing your toes include:
- Roll a golf ball on the ball of your foot, foot arch, and heel. (Helps relax the foot muscles and ease heel pain, foot cramps, and arch strain.)
- Walk barefoot in the sand. (Massages the feet, strengthens the toes, and conditions the foot muscles and joints.)
When to see a doctor
If you are experiencing acute pain, or if your discomfort does not decrease with proper self-care methods, contact your doctor. A skilled podiatrist can determine the source of your discomfort and recommend any treatment you may need.