Mastering Foot Care: 2 essential tools for athletes
The human foot and ankle region is a complex structure comprising numerious muscles, tendons, and ligaments. With about 30 joints, 20 muscles, numerous tendons and ligaments.
The foot and ankle bear the entire weight of the body when standing, walking, running, jumping, sprinting. The arches of the feet, in particular, are key in supporting and distributing this weight efficiently.
Besides weight-bearing, the feet are also responsible for shock-absorption, balance, proprioception, and energy transfer.
For most sports, it's the first part of the body that touches the ground and gets repeated contacted. Due to the repeated contacted, the fascia (connective-tissue or saran-wrap type tissue) at the bottom of the foot, or plantar fascia, can get "tight," or sore, or develop knots. This in turn can lead to a variety of compensations up the chain.
2 simple and valuable tools that we like our athletes to take care of their plantar-fascia are a lacrosse ball and a Pro-Stretch.
Use as the first part of a warm-up and/or at the end of the day.
The lacrosse ball helps in breaking up tight knots and tension in the fascia.
Start at the sole of the foot and roll through the arch, down to the heel. Spend more time on areas that have knots, and tightness.
Place your whole bodyweight into the ball as able and ease off if there's too much adhesion and tightness. Avoid using the ball if there's pain and consult a podiatrist or physical therapist.
Our other tool that's a favorite is the Pro-Stretch
The biggest benefit of the Pro-stretch is it allows for a deeper and more effective stretch of the plantar fascia, calf muscles, and achilles tendons, way more than just letting your foot hang off a curb or step.
Initially, keep the free leg on the ground for balance, then progress to placing your full bodyweight on the plantar fascia and letting the other leg barely touch the ground.
Rock the ankle back and forth for reps of 5-10. Your feet will Thank you!
Using both these tools provides for comprehensive foot and ankle care.