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3 Essential Foot Strengthening Exercises for Faster and Stronger Running

She did it.

She CRUSHED CHICAGO.

And she had no right to. ;)


Chiara had hopped into my DM's 4months ago with a stubborn and annoying case of Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis which were refusing to budge during her Chicago marathon training.


We talked.

Schemed.

And mapped out foot and glute exercises to her keep running and carry her across the finish line.


And part of that hard work included building essential foot strength, something that is MAJORLY crucial for ALL runners....

...but how often do we do these types of exercises?


*crickets*


So when I tell you she COMMITTED to building Stronger Feet...

she went all in.


She showed up everyday for herself.
She put in the work, strategically testing for her weaknesses.
And then she worked hard to fix them.

Let me give you a sample of of 3 essential foot strengthening exercises that helped Chiara cross the Chicago finish line.

They just may help you run faster and stronger, too.

Let's go!


3 Essential Foot Strengthening Exercises

Circuit:

3 sets each // an exercise step (or staircase ;) )


Sideways walking on Edge of Step

  • sideways walking is a warm up: perform 2-3x as needed to feel confident

Single leg balance with forefoot on Edge to Step with opposite High Knee

  • Goal: hold static (still) balance position for 15-30secs ea foot

  • Progress: add in runner arms for extra balance challenge, aiming for 15-30secs

1/2 kneeling to Runner's Lunge Jump

  • 6-8 jumps per side, R and L

RUN STRONGER & FASTER with STRONGER FEET


Sideways Walking on Edge of Step

  • there's a certain amount of fear factor that you have to work past. This exercise coaches you through that.

  • THE SECRET: only half of your foot is on the step. *emphasis on edge of step. while Have a railing or wall very close to you when you first try this. This IS a balance challenge in addition to an exercise designed to wake up and strengthen your forefoot muscles.

  • Can you feel how this exercise challenges your feet in a way that running does, too? With every stride you take, you push off with that same muscles that are challenged in this stance. Don't worry if this doesn't "look like running" yet. The next on does ;)

Single leg balance with forefoot on Edge to Step with opposite High Knee

  • long name, I know. But once you do the exercise, you'll understand. (and thank me later)

  • The first time you do this: HOLD ONTO SOMETHING. Half of this exercise is acclimating your body and your foot to the unique challenge of balancing on the front of your foot. (the trick: you actually already do this every stride you take, but you don't sustain it for 30secs)

  • Can you see how this begins to look like running? you are asking your body and foot to maintain a single leg position, requiring balance, while at the same time engaging your intrinsic AND extrinsic foot muscle...AND calf muscles. When you Dare to Train Differently, you work smarter, not harder.

1/2 kneeling to Runner's Lunge Jump

  • PROCEED CAUTIOUSLY. only because it's hard ;)

  • This exercises requires POWER. You're starting essentially on the ground and EXPLODING upward through that front leg, so powerfully, that you jump and land on one foot. There's a lot going on here, but it looks like running ;).

  • With this exercise, you are building: Foot strength and stability, calf and glute strength, single leg balance, the ability to create power, and the ability to absorb load when you come back to earth.

  • be patient with yourself here if it's hard. You WILL grow into this one!

WRAPPING UP

Chiara's hard work paid off.

She successfully finished her Chicago training.

Ran Chicago and gave it her all..

...despite experiencing a hiccup during and after the race: that cranky Achilles and calf tightness came back out to play.


Here's the (second) happy ending to this story:

she didn't panic.

Chiara knew she had tools in her "tool box" to help manage anything her Achilles and calf could throw at her...on top of her well-structured 2 week recovery post race. ;)


And right now, she's making her comeback.

Working on her not-so-weak-link as she prepares for Boston.

And now that she's already built a strong-foot-foundation, I can't wait to see where her running journey takes her next. :)


Give her a follow on IG at: @nuttyfitbondi


If you want to follow the EXACT foot exercises Chiara used, you can grab them here in my Stronger Feet Workshop, a workshop I recommend for ALL marathoners and long distance runners.

Until next time, running fit fam...


Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //@dr.whitt.fit


P.S. Really, really. If you're spending HOURS on your feet running, you need to training your feet too. Grab my essential foot strengthening exercises for runners in my Stronger Feet Workshop!

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