Since we use our feet for so many of our day-to-day activities, foot pain can be extremely inconvenient. Even simple things such as moving around the house can become an ordeal if you are suffering from foot pain. Fortunately, foot rolling is a simple and effective way to alleviate foot pain and even pain that extends all the way to the lower back. Best of all, foot rolling is an extremely simple exercise that can be done practically anywhere, making it the ideal exercise for a speedy recovery.
What Is It?
Foot rolling is the act of rolling an item along the entire length of the sole of your feet. Branded foot rollers are available to buy but there are many different items that can be used instead. Among the most popular are golf balls and tennis balls. Foam rollers, rolling pins, bottles of water, and all sorts of other items can also be used, which is one of the many reasons this exercise is so useful.
The exercise is best done while sitting down, although it will also work standing up. When rolling, you should move from side to side as you roll the item from the toes to the heel, making sure to cover the entire sole of the foot. Press firmly, but don't try to crush the item.
What It's For
Foot rolling is used primarily to exercise either the hamstrings or the plantar fascia, which is the ligament that connects our heels to our feet. For the hamstrings, the physical stretching that occurs by rolling an item back and forth with our foot helps to gently stretch and work out the muscle. If you are exercising your hamstring instead of your feet, the exercise is best done sitting down. This can be used to speed up the recovery of an injured hamstring, or to warm it up to prevent future injury.
If you are using the exercise to address issues like plantar fasciitis, which is the swelling or inflammation of the ligament that runs along the sole of our feet, you should focus more on the sensation of the foot than your posture. Many people choose to use a frozen item to roll with, as the cold can help alleviate the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, as well as prevent further inflammation. Frozen golf balls or bottles of water are great choices for this. However, it is hugely important to note that if you decide to use a frozen item, you must stretch the ligament first, or you risk exacerbating the problem.
If you are using this technique to deal with pain in the bottom of the foot, remember that you are essentially massaging the foot. You want to encourage bloodflow and reduce tightness. If you come across an area that is particularly tender, you should push down firmly on that area for 15-20 seconds. Your natural instinct throughout the exercise, and particularly when pushing down on a tender area, will be to hold your breath. Be conscious of your breathing and avoid holding your breath at all, as you want as much oxygen moving around the foot as possible.
Foot rolling can be used to treat a sore bunion, but be sure that you don't press down on any spots, warts, verrucas, or boils. Once you have covered all the tender areas and rolled your item to the back of your heel, spend a few minutes rolling it back and forth, trying to cover as much of the sole as possible. Before finishing up, you should press down on each of the tender areas for another 15-20 seconds.
This exercise should be repeated several times a day, and you should begin to notice an improvement relatively quickly in most cases. Depending on why you are doing this exercise, you should use it in conjunction with other techniques. For example, ensuring the you have appropriate footwear can help with everything from tender feet to lower back pain, a cold foot soak can help reduce the effects of plantar fasciitis, and rock tape can help speed up hamstring recovery.