Restore353
Ergonomics - 2.jpg

Blog

Pilates for the Runner: 4 Exercises for Your Feet

Now that fall is here, you might be thinking that it’s time to get serious about training for your next race, whether it’s the Thanksgiving turkey trot or the New York City Marathon.  Maybe you just joined the Restore353 Running Club, or this running thing is new to you and you just want to be able to catch the bus without feeling out-of-breath.  I’m here to show you four exercises for your feet and ankles that can help you stay healthy during your training.  This will be the first of several blog posts on Pilates exercises for runners.  We’ll be working from the feet up, to show how your entire body works together for the run.  For the following exercises, you will need (1) a small ball (ideally a pinky ball, though a tennis ball or smaller ball with plasticity will also work) and (2) a resistance band.

1. Foot Release with Ball #1

Start standing, with the ball under the right foot.  Your left hand can rest on a wall or chair for balance.  Apply a gentle downward pressure on the ball and roll it in a clockwise circle around the sole of the foot.  Do 8 reps in this clockwise direction, then reverse directions.  Repeat the exercise with the ball under the left foot.  This is a gentle way to release the fascia of the sole of the foot.

VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353

2. Foot Release with Ball #2

Start standing, with the ball under the ball of the right foot, in between the big toe and second toe.  Your left hand can rest on a wall or chair for balance.  Apply a firm downward pressure on the ball and slowly drag the ball towards the heel, then drag the ball back to the start position.  Move the ball so that it is under the ball of the foot, in between the second toe and the third toe.  Drag the the ball in a diagonal line towards the heel, then drag back.  Try not to let the ball wobble away from the line.  If it does, reposition the ball on the trouble spot, carefully place downward pressure on the ball, and take a few deep breaths before continuing down the line.  Repeat the movement between the third and fourth toes, then the fourth and fifth toes.  Repeat the sequence with the ball under the left foot.  This is a more focused release of the plantar fascia.

VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353

3. Toes-Foot-Ankle Mobility with Resistance Band #1

Start sitting, with the resistance band looped over the ball of the right foot, and your hands holding the ends of the band.  You can sit on top of a pillow or cushion if your hips are tight or it feels uncomfortable sitting on the floor.  Begin with your toes reaching long towards the ceiling.  Point your toes against the resistance of the band, then flex your toes back, making sure the big toe moves with the other toes.  Limit the movement to the toes, trying to keep the ankle still.  Do 8 reps, then add in movement of the foot and ankle.  Point your toes, then the foot and ankle.  Flex your toes back, then the foot and ankle.  Focus on articulating first through the toes, then the entire foot, then the ankle, in both point and flex movements.  Keep the heel grounded.  Work to keep your foot in parallel and move evenly between the inner and outer lines of the foot and ankle (for example, not rolling the foot towards the outside ankles).  Do 8 reps.

Repeat the series on the left foot.

VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353

4. Toes-Foot-Ankle Mobility with Resistance Band #2

This exercise is the reverse of the one in #3 immediately above.  Start sitting, with the resistance band looped over the top of the right foot, and the ends of the band tied around a sturdy pole or chair, or with your running buddy holding the ends of the band.  Flex the toes against the band’s resistance, then gently point the toes.  Do 8 reps before adding in the movement of the foot and ankle (start by flexing the toes, then the foot, then the ankle, and return by pointing the toes, then the foot, then the ankle).  Do another 8 reps.  Keep the heel on the mat and the leg in parallel as you do the movements.  Focus on form, rather than how hard you can point or flex.

Repeat the series on the left foot.

VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353

If you have any questions or want me to cover other running-related topics, please leave a comment below.  Happy Running!