Importance of Foot Core

As physical therapists, you probably think we are all obsessed with the CORE!  And we are!  Most times, we are talking about the abdominal core, which helps with maintaining posture and stabilizing us through movement. But did you know that your foot has a “core” too?  The “foot core” refers to the foot intrinsic muscles, which are all the small muscles that work to support the arch and increase stability of the foot.

Without strength of these intrinsic foot muscles, we are more susceptible to poor motor control, weakness, and/or joint limitations that can lead to various ankle and foot injuries (Lindsay Wasserman, CSM 2019).  A strong, healthy foot will protect and provide resilience against foot/ankle pathologies. Common overuse injuries of the foot include plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and stress fractures.

During this time that outdoor exercise is one of the best ways to stay fit and relieve stress, many of us have turned to running and long walks around town.  Here are several exercises that will keep our feet up to the task!


1.) Short Foot – strengthens the muscles of the arch

  • In standing and/or sitting, gently press the toes into the ground.
  • Draw the ball of the foot toward the heel to heighten your arch.
short foot
Short Foot

2.)  Toe Yoga– strengthens the muscles that control toe movement

  • In standing and/or sitting, press the 4 little toes DOWN into the ground and then lift the big toe UP.
  • Then reverse!  Press the big toe DOWN, and lift the little toes up.
Toe Yoga
Toe Yoga
Toe Yoga
Toe Yoga-Reverse

3.)  Toe Spreaders– strengthens the muscles that control toe movement

  • Spread toes wide and then squeeze back together (the effort should come from the center of the foot).
  • Use toe spreaders to increase mobility of the toes if this is challenging.
Toe Spread
Toe Spread

Start by performing these exercises 3-5 minutes, 3-5 times a day. Begin seated, next progress to standing, and eventually progress further to balance on one leg, as they get easier over time.

Now go ahead and hop “toe” it!