Try this exercise to bring greater mobility to your feet. It works their intrinsic musculature, which allows for flexion, extension, and abduction (spreading) of the toes. Because a big chunk of your day may be spent in shoes with toe boxes that are comfortable yet insidiously restrictive to these movements, you end up with achy feet that are also weak and may not move as well as you’d like.
Remember what happened the last time you removed your shoes after many hours of being shod. Did you immediately start flexing, extending, abducting aka wiggling your toes for the relief it brings? These are movements for which our feet have an evolutionary craving. Unshod (or even minimally shod) on natural terrain, we would be engaging the intrinsic muscles of our feet in this way, whenever we walked.
But, since we are a shod society, we need to find ways to infuse such movements into our day.
Here is a great way to do this:
Stand on yoga blocks, books, or anything that you can hang your toes over the edge. You want to be able to move your toes from neutral to full flexion to full extension and back. Be mindful that your medial (inner) ankles do not collapse in towards one another. With your toes hanging over the edges of the blocks, flex your toes down towards the floor then extend your toes up towards the ceiling. Alternate between flexing and extending until you have flexed and extended 10 times each.
Here’s a short video of this exercise.
Learn more exercises for your feet from my teacher renowned biomechanist Katy Bowman with these brilliant 30 minute exercise videos that you can stream or download to view as often as you like for just $5 each!