Attention runners: a tennis ball could be your new best friend

Ballot places for the London Marathon are being sent out this week and if you’re lucky enough to get a spot or are gearing up to run for a charity you’re probably getting pretty serious about your training programme.......or starting to freak out a little bit.

Seasoned runners will know that even with the right running shoes and technique your feet will literally take a pounding as you build up those training miles. Foot care will be a big part of your regime and that’s not surprising because our feet are incredibly intricate structures. 

Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles and 7000 nerve endings that keep us upright, help stop us falling over and keep us moving. That’s a lot of parts we need to keep in working order. 

To get you started here’s a simple exercise you can include in your routine to wake up and mobilise your feet.  Sorry, but this won’t be right for everyone – please check the safety precautions below before you try it. 

Tennis ball foot release

You can try this before you go out for a run (my preference) or use it as a warm down exercise.  All you need is a tennis ball.  Easy does it, don’t be tempted to overdo it with any sore spots. 

Position

  • stand on both feet with your spine long and shoulders relaxed
  • you can hold onto something for balance if you like
  • aim to keep your gaze forward, spine long and your feet side-by-side throughout the movements.

Movements

  • place the tennis ball under your right foot and roll it back and forth to massage the underside of your foot using as much as or little pressure as feels right for you.
  • with the tennis ball underneath the ball of your right foot, rest your right heel on the floor – your foot will be on an angle.
    • have equal weight on the front and back of your right foot so that it feels as if you are standing on the tennis ball
    • see if you can also stand with equal weight on both of your feet.
    • it’s fine to squish the tennis ball down towards the ground, but take some weight off your right foot if it’s too painful. Go easy.
  • repeat this with the ball in two different positions:
    • in the centre of your right foot (the arch)
    • underneath your right heel.
    • again, aim to have equal weight on both feet but go easy and take some weight off your right foot if you need to.

  • THEN pause for a moment. Stand with both feet on the ground and see if you can feel any difference between your right foot and your left. Can you also notice a difference between the right side of your body and the left?
  • Repeat on the movements on your left foot.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on – you can leave comments here or email me at hello@catfordpilates.co.uk.  In my next blog I’ll look at some exercises you can do at home to strengthen your feet.  

And if you’d like to add some whole body strengthening and lengthening to your training regime, I have seven-week Pilates courses starting on Wednesday 24 October - £65 for 7 classes. For details and to book online visit https://www.catfordpilates.co.uk/matwork-classes  

Safety notes

As with any online information – you are responsible for your own body. If you experience pain please stop.  This exercise is NOT for you are pregnant, have flat feet, have had a hip, knee or ankle replacement or indeed if you have any kind of injury (e.g back, hip, knee, ankle, foot). If you’re in any doubt, don’t do it.