Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for Fantastic Feet!

by | May 4, 2008 | Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Foot Care & Foot Fitness, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips | 3 comments

Here are six interesting foot facts that I found recently while researching foot health and exercise on the web.

    • Seventy-five percent of Americans will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives.
    • Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; lifelong patterns of wearing high heels often are the culprit.
    • There are times when you’re walking that the pressure on your feet exceeds your body weight, and when you’re running, it can be three or four times your weight.

  • Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet — so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
  • Many people have the erroneous notion that their feet are supposed to hurt.
  • Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems, the American Podiatric Medical Association believes. Its neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care — including ill-fitting shoes — that brings on the problems.

Wow, what an eye opener! Three-fourths of the population is walking around with foot pain, they think their feet are supposed to hurt, they potentially have other medical conditions, and neglect and lack of awareness for proper care may be the reason they have foot problems in the first place.

I’m now re-energized and enthusiastic about sharing what I know about the Pilates and foot health with as many people as I can find who are ready to listen.

I never intended to be a foot fitness fanatic. But my mission of helping people understand that there are easy foot-care exercises that can be done with minimal equipment to seriously improve the health of your feet has grown and evolved from my own foot pain issues as a gymnast and dancer, into a career of teaching others how to stay healthy through general fitness and the Pilates method.

The obvious is only obvious if you’re aware of it!

I sat in a few years ago on a class of violinists at a local university. The professor asked for a show of hands for how many students had pain when they played their instruments and every hand in the room went up. These 18-20 year olds were conditioned to believe that it was ok and normal for their bodies to hurt, and they were all at the beginning of their chosen career! I was reminded of my life at the end of high school and beginning of college when it hurt to walk and my diagnosis was degenerative arthritis in both ankles. All I wanted to do was pursue an athletic career, but every step was excruciatingly painful. While these string players weren’t experiencing foot pain, the principle was the same. We’d chosen to use our bodies in a manner of repetitive misalignment which over time has created pain and injury, and all warning signs were being ignored hoping the problem would just go away. No one thought it could be different; knew what to look for as a solution to balance the body, or was actively correcting misalignments and challenging the weaker muscles to catch up for improved posture and health.

Whether it’s in your neck, back, feet, or any part of the body, our bodies should not hurt, and we should not have to compensate for pain. It’s a fact….if you’ve got a problem at one end, sooner or later, it’s going to affect the other because everything is connected. Avoidance will only lead to additional problems down the road. Medications might help relieve pain – but are they correcting the problems? Surgery might fix one thing – and create new challenges or issues that you’re not even aware of.

So where do we go, what do we do, and who do we believe can help fix the problems?

I’m a firm believer in the fact that there are many different ways to solve the same problem. What works for one person, might not be the best fix for someone else. And while personally, I’m of the thought that surgery will be my very last option…sometimes it really is the only appropriate route.

However, with that said…while our bodies are uniquely individual – the basic design of our structure, and how our muscles and joints work is the same. Different exercises may be a better choice for one individual vs. another, but the bottom line is EXERCISE specific to foot health and foot care can go a long way towards improving all aspects of a healthy body and life…We’re just not being taught what to do!

Cramming our feet into a pair of tennis shoes and going out for a walk or a run isn’t going to fix foot problems. Take time to learn simple stretching and strengthening exercises for your feet. These can be done in a few minutes a day, or at the beginning or end of your workout program and just might make the difference in maintaining your health and keeping your feet pain and injury free.

Are you interested in learning more?

I have had the privilege of working with a lot of feet in my career as a Pilates teacher. I’ve watched my own flat feet develop an arch and the degenerative arthritis diagnosis I received as a teen-ager disappear leaving me with healthy feet. I’ve seen gait mechanics change for a child with Cerebral Palsy from tripping over her feet with severely turned in toes – to a normal heel, ball, toe pattern with balance and control. I’ve watched a client with severe arthritis in her feet and toes improve her tolerance for standing and walking. I’ve seen the misalignment of bunions and hammer toes improve. “Frozen” immobile toe and ankle joints gain mobility. Toe joints that have been surgically corrected but still weren’t quite right continue to improve… All of this has me completely convinced that if people had a bit more education about how to care for their feet, there would be a much healthier population walking and running around on the planet.

The Pilates Method is a great training program to benefit foot-care. Because exercises are done barefoot, the feet have a chance to work and develop the subtle muscles that help support the arches. The first exercises done on the Pilates Reformer in a typical workout are for foot work. Joseph Pilates even created two foot specific pieces of equipment – the Foot Corrector, and Toe Tens meter. He understood the value and benefit of focusing on the feet and incorporated many foot health exercises into the Pilates system.

Even without access to Pilates equipment or a Pilates training program, there is lots you can do for your feet. Other forms of barefoot exercise like yoga, or modern dance can help to stretch and strengthen the feet. But not everyone will benefit from being on their feet while improving foot health.

To help get you started, here are three easy foot-care exercises:

1. Toe Stretches – Doming.

  • Sit comfortably. Place the fingers of both hands under the ball of one foot and gently lift up.
  • Use your thumbs to gently press down on the tops of the toes where they meet the foot to stretch the toe joints.
  • Hold 10-15 seconds and release. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • As you’re stretching see if you can see the “knuckles of the foot” like you would see the knuckles of your hand if you made a fist.
  • If you have difficulty seeing all of your knuckles, spend a little extra time stretching the toes that need to bend more to show the knuckles.

2. Ankle Circles

  • Slowly circle the entire foot from the ankle in a full range of motion.
  • Articulate through each of the toes as you move through your circle.
  • Work through a strong pointed position (using the arches of the feet)
  • Work through a deep flexed position (stretching the foot & calf)
  • You can do both feet at the same time, or one at a time.
  • This can be done seated, standing (one foot at a time!) or laying down
  • Circle 5-10 times in each direction

3. Toe Stretches with Pedicure Pads

  • Purchase a pair of pedicure pads (or take a paper towel and fold it to weave between the toes)
  • Having this between the toes helps to stretch the toe and arch muscles.
  • Start by using the pads to stretch the toes apart when you’re seated.
  • Progress to wearing them around the house while you’re walking barefoot to cue the toes to spread and stretch
  • Depending on your feet, you might do this 2-3 times a week, or daily.

I hope by now you realize that foot pain is not OK, AND there may be foot fitness exercises that can help improve your foot health and reduce foot pain.

Help your aching feet get back to happy feet. Don’t stop searching until you’ve found the best solution for you. With only one pair of feet, and replacement not an option – it’s important to listen to your body and take good care your ankles, arches and toes. It’s never too late to gain the benefits of improved wellness. Maintain optimal health and enjoy pain-free feet with exercise for Fantastic Feet!



Note: After years of teaching simple foot-care exercises to my clients for “homework,” I decided to put what I was teaching together and write a book. Fantastic Feet! Exercises to Strengthen the Ankles, Arches, and Toes was the result of my efforts. If you’re looking for easy ways that you can continue a foot-care fitness program you’ll want to get a copy of this resource.

1. Foot Fact Information From: http://www.gapma.com/FootFacts.htm Sources for the data are the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, American Hospital Association, American Podiatric Medical Association, Council on Podiatric Medical Education, Podiatry Insurance Company of America, United States Bureau of the Census, and United States Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Fantastic Feet! Exercises to Strengthen the Ankles, Arches, and Toes by Aliesa George. Centerworks Pilates Institute. ISBN-10: 0977157601 ISBN-13: 978-0977157600. Available at www.centerworks.com in book or downloadable PDF format or at www.Amazon.com

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


  1. Kimiko Pelino

    new project in a community within the very same niche. Your weblog supplied us beneficial information and facts to work on.

  2. Private Postal Address UK

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for Fantastic Feet! I posted it on my Facebook to hopefully give you more readers.I will certainly come back to read future posts. Private Postal Address UK

  3. Ozie Barcelona

    Superb to see your work may be a wonderful experience, I’d have been concerned about you, I imagine that you’ll publish the better works.



  1. Special Fitness Store does the business for fitness equipments - Special Fitness Store does the business for fitness equipments... Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for…
  2. exercise with ball - exercise balls... [...]Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for Fantastic Feet! | Centerworks Blog[...]...
  3. home gym equipment,home gym,home gyms,ab machines,ab machine,abdominal machines,abdominal machine,adjustable dumbbells,adjustable dumbbell set,dumbbells,home gym equipment review,adjustable dumbbell reviews,ab machine reviews,abdominal machine reviews,hom - home gym equipment,home gym,home gyms,ab machines,ab machine,abdominal machines,abdominal machine,adjustable dumbbells,adjustable dumbbell set,dumbbells,home gym equipment review,adjustable dumbbell reviews,ab machine reviews,abdominal machine…
  4. home gym equipment online reviews - home gym equipment online reviews... [...]Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for Fantastic Feet! | Centerworks…
  5. Palestra Stendhal Fitness Club Oggiono - Palestra Stendhal Fitness Club Oggiono... [...]Oh My Aching Feet…Foot Pain, Foot Fitness, & Pilates Exercises for Fantastic Feet! | Centerworks…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10% Off

Sign up now to get 10% off your first purchase.

Get updates on discounts, events, early access to new products, and more.