Here are 4 ways to stretch—and strengthen—your toes and keep foot aches and pains at bay:
Arch Cross Stretch
Your arch is loaded with special sensory neurons, says Jill Miller, founder of Yoga Tune Up and author of Roll Model. When this area becomes tight, the result can be numbness and potentially pain. Miller recommends the arch cross stretch: Place a tennis or squash ball just below your pinkie toe on the pad of your foot. Slowly roll the ball back and forth from your pinkie toe to your big toe. This move, says Miller, helps mobilize the joints and increase range of motion in the toes, helping relieve tension in the arch. Moving slowly, complete this stretch for a minimum of 5 minutes per foot.
This stretch helps increase the full range of motion of your ankle and foot, and really targets the muscles on the top of your foot. Kneel on the floor and roll your ankles out to the sides until the tops of your feet are touching the floor. Slowly sit back on your heels, taking care to keep your back straight and your core engaged. Place your hands on top of your thighs for comfort as you progressively sit back farther. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times, once a day.
Calf Gastroc Stretch
The gastrocnemius muscle—your calf muscle—can become tight from many types of common exercises, such as running, walking, or any workout that involves jumping. Try this stretch: Stand on a step, curb, brick, or any place where you can drop your heel, lean forward, and hold onto something forsupport. Place the ball of your foot on the step and then lower your heel while keeping your leg straight. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. For better results, alternate the stretch by pointing your toes inwardfirst, and then repeat with your toes pointing outward. Repeat on both legs twice through.