Considering that each of your feet is made up of 33 joints, more than 100 ligaments, and 26 bones, they deserve more than just a pedicure. "If they're not strong and properly aligned, the repercussions will echo through your body," says Erika Bloom, owner of Erika Bloom Pilates Plus in New York City. Do this tootsie workout twice a week. And as you learn to lift your arches, spread your toes, and center your weight over your entire foot, you'll help all your muscles move better. "Your spine will stack as it should, your core will engage, and your pos-ture will improve immediately."
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart and two feet from your butt. Lift both arches and draw your toes toward your heels. Then relax the arches and slide your heels toward your glutes and flatten your feet. Repeat the sequence until your heels nearly reach your glutes. Repeat in reverse: arches up, heels toward toes, toes spread forward as arches flatten. Continue until you're where you started. That's one set. Do three.
Improves ankle stability, strengthens entire foot
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip—distance apart and two feet from your butt. Lift your toes so only your heels are on the floor and your feet are flexed. From heel to toe, slowly roll your feet to the ground and lift your heels until only your pointed toes are on the ground. That's one rep. Repeat 10 times.
WING AND SICKLE
Strengthens ankle, promotes correct gait
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart and two feet from your butt. Roll your feet onto their inside edges, keeping the insides of your big toes on the ground (your feet will resemble wings). Then roll your feet to their outer edges so the outsides of your pinkies and heels are on the floor. Repeat, slowly walking your feet away from each other until they're two to three feet apart, then walk them back together. That's one set. Do three.
THE ROUND KNOT
Stretches foot ligaments, aids alignment
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your left knee 90 degrees and place the outside of your left calf on top of your right thigh. Interlace your right fingertips with your left toes. Spreading your fingers, inch them forward until your toes are on the webbing between your fingers. Close your hand and, letting the foot totally relax, make large circles with your feet. Do six in one direction and six in the other, then switch feet.
WTF IS... DOMS?!
It stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which is what you have when you feel really freaking sore about 24 hours after a tough workout. But it is a good excuse for a rubdown. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that a massage can reduce DOMS symptoms by up to 30 percent. Visit amtamassage.org to find a certified massage therapist.