Feet can take a beating if you participate in sports. And just like any other structure in the body, dysfunction in our feet can lead to serious issues, including knee pain or lower back aches.
Your feet need training and conditioning just like the rest of your body.
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Muscles of the Feet
Any imbalances in musculature in your feet will limit full range of motion and alter your running and walking gait, which in the long term can cause problems and overuse injuries.
There are two kinds of musculature in your feet, extrinsic and intrinsic:
1) Extrinsic foot muscles have one attachment in the foot and the other one up in the leg. These muscles move your foot relative to the lower leg. The three muscles of the calves are all extrinsic.
2) Intrinsic foot muscles have both ends inside the foot. Intrinsic motions move one portion of the foot relative to other foot joints. One example is the muscle (abductor digiti minimi) that moves your pinkie toe out and away from the other toes.
For the feet muscles, wearing shoes is like putting a cast on your arm after a bone break: without regular use, the muscles atrophy quickly. When the smaller intrinsic muscles with fine motor skills atrophy, the larger extrinsic muscles start to compensate. Slowly, they are overused, developing trigger points and tension that will further cause more problems.
Why Exercise Your Feet?
The muscle groups of your two feet make up 25 percent of the body's muscles. If you ignore the strength and function of the muscles in your feet, it is like eliminating upper-body exercises from your routine.
Exercises that innervate the intrinsic foot muscles and restore the length of lower leg muscles are extremely important. Foot strength directly influences proper foot mechanics, gait patterns, ankle stabilization, and whole-body balance.