How to Tell If You Have Healthy Feet

All you need is a few minutes and a towel. Soccer players: take note.

A pair of bare feet walking on a turfed field.

Your dogs deserve some attention. Start with towel curls.

“Foot fitness” is very much a thing.

Consider: your feet have got a couple-dozen bones and nearly five dozen ligaments, each. Let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. When you set out for a run, you’re striking the pavement with up to 600 pounds of pressure with each step taken. Over time, that level of pressure can take one hell of a toll on your dogs.

Which is why it’s critical that you check in with your feet from time to time, with targeted activations that will help you become a better/healthier runner…or yogi, or soccer player.

There are plenty of ways to keep your feet in fighting shape. We can personally vouch for strengthening exercises like calf raises on a step, tip-toe walking and ankle pumps, or tension-releasing equipment like toe separators, lacrosse balls and MOBO balance boards.

That said: of the most dead-simple tricks you can do to assess — and work towards restoring — foot functionality is place your foot on a beach towel. “Towel curls,” are a favorite amongst physical therapists. Making sure that the towel is on a slick (uncarpeted) surface, use your toes to scrunch the fabric back towards you. Here’s a video of that this should look like.

Why This Method Works

How can something so trivial possibly have a bearing on your fitness regimen? Well, the motion, which is officially referred to as intrinsic foot strengthening, helps rebuild balance and power in your toes. It’s also a direct response to plantar fasciitis, one of the six most common running injuries, as regular towel curls will help support the arches of your feet.

Some things to keep in mind, before you take your socks off. Your heel should be planted firmly on the ground as you pull the towel back (so the toes don’t get any help from the leg), and you’ll want to pull in as slow and controlled a manner as possible. Aim for five reps.