Alignment of the feet, ankles, & heels is important for foot fitness. It can affect posture, functional movement, gait for walking & running, and may also be a factor for risk of injury, causing foot pain, knee pain, or even back pain! We stand, we walk, we run, we stretch our calf muscles, but a lot can be happening at the heels that will affect body alignment, posture, functional movement, your ability to move well, and stay injury-free. Let’s see what you notice about what your heels are doing when you rise on your toes and lower your heels.
Seated Lift & Lower: Heel Raise Exercise
- Start sitting in a chair.
- Place a mirror in front of you so you can see your feet AND sit tall maintaining good posture.
- Take your shoes and socks off, so you can see your bare feet.
- Start with your knees and feet hip-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.
- In this position, can you see your heels? Ideally they should be hidden behind the rest of your foot.
- Do you notice the weight more on the outside or inside of your heels?
- To make an adjustment to “hide your heels” did your knees drift in or out?
Ideally the knees stay put, the toes stay still and facing straight ahead, and the heel makes the adjustment.
If your heel is stuck, it will be difficult (or darn near impossible) to get it hidden behind the rest of the foot! Do the best you can right now, and mostly just pay attention to what you notice about optimal alignment vs. what your feet, heels, and legs want to do.
Now, still in your seated position with good tall posture… Let’s do the Seated Heel Lift & Lower Exercise:
- Inhale and lift the heels to rise up on the tippy-toes.
- Exhale to lower the heels back to the floor.
Check out this video for details to get the most from this foot fitness exercise!
Pay Attention To Your Feet During Your Seated Lift & Lower Exercise
and Answer the Following Questions:
- In the lifted tippy-toe position, are your heels still hidden?
- Does your ankle line up directly over the toes, or did you watch the ankles wobble in and/or out?
- As you lowered your heels, did they stay hidden?
- Did the knees stay in the parallel position in line with the hips and shoulders? Or as you were attempting to hide the heels, did your knees try to make the change?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, there may be some heel stretching activities that can be beneficial to help improve the functional alignment of your feet.
Ideally, you should be able to rise up on your toes, and lower your heels maintaining good alignment, with your heels hidden (in line with your foot). This is the motion that happens in your foot when you walk and run. If the heel is not tracking correctly when you’re sitting in a chair and rising on your toes, do you wonder what it’s doing when you’re springing off the ground with every step?
It Is Very Difficult To Make A Change for Better Foot Alignment In A Standing Position
- We have all of our body weight standing on what needs to make an adjustment.
- We are fighting gravity.
- Our muscles are used to working in a certain way and will defer to their old habits quickly to “get the job done.”
- We can’t SEE what we’re doing. If you look down at your feet to watch it completely changes your posture position.
- Balance is an issue. New habits require new muscle use – If you have to focus on not falling over, it will distract you from finding the right stuff to learn new muscle habits.
Practice this Seated Heel Lift & Lower Exercise, and in my next article, I’ll share with you an easy-to-learn foot fitness exercise you can do before and after your workouts to help get your heels moving easier in the right direction so you can keep your feet in great alignment to walk & run!
Stay tuned for Step 2: the next installment with details to “Stand, Walk, & Run Better with the Medial/Lateral Heel Stretch Exercise for Improved Foot Fitness.”
If you’re looking for other helpful foot fitness exercises, check out the book Fantastic Feet! Exercises to Strengthen the Ankles, Arches, & Toes.