Sock Doc: Foot Strength, Foot Rehabilitation, & Healthy Progression Towards Barefoot Movement

Video Transcript

Hey this is Dr. Gangemi, the Sock Doc. I wanted to make this little quick video to accompany a couple of articles on the website such as “Lose Your Shoes” on how to transition into more minimalistic footwear and a barefoot lifestyle properly and safely so you don’t injure yourself and you can improve your health and fitness.

So a couple of things we talk about. One, your hopefully always barefoot when you’re walking around the house or walking around flat surfaces where you feel safe, comfortable. You know, you’re only using shoes for protection. So you starting to stand and balance and do your daily activities barefoot.

Once you can do that pretty comfortably throughout the day, then I want you to work on basically balancing on one leg, like so. Just put your other leg out in front of you and you should be as tall as a tree, strong as a tree trunk and not be shaking at all with your other leg off the ground. And then switch them. Once you’re steady on one leg, switch to the other. Hold there for a good 30 seconds, even a minute.

Now once you can do that, then I want you to work on closing your eyes. Basically you should be as steady as you can with your eyes closed and that single leg. You’re going to feel you ankle probably wobble a little bit more, but your eyes open to your eyes closed like I am right now, really no movement in either leg. So go back and do them both and try and do maybe 30 seconds with your eyes open. Close your eyes. 30 seconds with your eyes closed.

You’ll feel little imbalances in there in your ankles. Right now my left ankle feels a little bit more wobbly than my right. Something I can work on a little bit more. After that you’re going to basically do a really slow calf raise. You can obviously do these with both feet. It’s not too difficult to do. But if your feet are really weak and you’re really at the beginning of stages, you can go up, hold it and then slowly lower your calves. Or slowly lower your heels like so. Nice and controlled just like that. Hold it up there. Slowly lower it.

Then after that, I want you to go back to the single leg, much more difficult. Put the other leg just off the ground or in back of that calf. And then slowly go up. Hold it. And then back down really slow. Switch them, up, hold it, back down. From the side, it’s going to look like this. Hold it up, nice and controlled. Back down, slowly touch the heel. Don’t slam it. So it looks like this. So you’re not doing this. Like back and slamming the heel. It’s very slow and controlled. Like that.

Once you’ve done that, your ankles will probably be feeling it. Again, if you’re new to this, don’t keep on progressing as I’m talking in the video right now. Just stop and do that. If your ankles and foot muscles are feeling sore the next day, take a day off and just do it as you can progress on your own.

After that, you’re basically going to be doing a slow jog in place. Where heels aren’t touching. And that again should be nice and controlled and slow. So you’re not touching your heels like this and slamming. You can probably hear that. It’s nice and controlled. And you can do that with a chalk line. Or like this. I just put some rocks out. Stand in that square and you should be basically staying in the square just like this. Bring those knees up a little bit. My heels are never touching and I’m not all over the place. Nice and controlled.

Working on my proprioception, my balance, and my foot ankle lower leg strength. Once I’ve done that, then I could probably start doing an easy jog or an easy run I should say. We really don’t jog. That’s a jarring motion. An easy run with more minimalistic shoes if I’m already there. It’s going to help me be able to run more barefoot and slowly progress up so I can do those things without injuring myself.

These exercises are also great for foot rehab from Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, those sorts of things. And help your overall balance and health. Thanks.

In this video I show some drills to help strengthen your feet and lower legs with the goal of improving your balance and health while also helping to prevent future injuries. These exercises are also great if you’re trying to recover from an injury such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis, or you’re looking to develop more power and strength to become a more fit athlete. And of course, if you’re striving towards a more minimalist lifestyle and wish to be able to walk, run, and comfortably move about barefoot, this is the video to watch.

Also check out the Sock Doc articles “Healthy People = Barefoot People” and “Lose Your Shoes“.

Video Transcript

Hey this is Dr. Gangemi, the Sock Doc. I wanted to make this little quick video to accompany a couple of articles on the website such as “Lose Your Shoes” on how to transition into more minimalistic footwear and a barefoot lifestyle properly and safely so you don’t injure yourself and you can improve your health and fitness.

So a couple of things we talk about. One, your hopefully always barefoot when you’re walking around the house or walking around flat surfaces where you feel safe, comfortable. You know, you’re only using shoes for protection. So you starting to stand and balance and do your daily activities barefoot.

Once you can do that pretty comfortably throughout the day, then I want you to work on basically balancing on one leg, like so. Just put your other leg out in front of you and you should be as tall as a tree, strong as a tree trunk and not be shaking at all with your other leg off the ground. And then switch them. Once you’re steady on one leg, switch to the other. Hold there for a good 30 seconds, even a minute.

Now once you can do that, then I want you to work on closing your eyes. Basically you should be as steady as you can with your eyes closed and that single leg. You’re going to feel you ankle probably wobble a little bit more, but your eyes open to your eyes closed like I am right now, really no movement in either leg. So go back and do them both and try and do maybe 30 seconds with your eyes open. Close your eyes. 30 seconds with your eyes closed.

You’ll feel little imbalances in there in your ankles. Right now my left ankle feels a little bit more wobbly than my right. Something I can work on a little bit more. After that you’re going to basically do a really slow calf raise. You can obviously do these with both feet. It’s not too difficult to do. But if your feet are really weak and you’re really at the beginning of stages, you can go up, hold it and then slowly lower your calves. Or slowly lower your heels like so. Nice and controlled just like that. Hold it up there. Slowly lower it.

Then after that, I want you to go back to the single leg, much more difficult. Put the other leg just off the ground or in back of that calf. And then slowly go up. Hold it. And then back down really slow. Switch them, up, hold it, back down. From the side, it’s going to look like this. Hold it up, nice and controlled. Back down, slowly touch the heel. Don’t slam it. So it looks like this. So you’re not doing this. Like back and slamming the heel. It’s very slow and controlled. Like that.

Once you’ve done that, your ankles will probably be feeling it. Again, if you’re new to this, don’t keep on progressing as I’m talking in the video right now. Just stop and do that. If your ankles and foot muscles are feeling sore the next day, take a day off and just do it as you can progress on your own.

After that, you’re basically going to be doing a slow jog in place. Where heels aren’t touching. And that again should be nice and controlled and slow. So you’re not touching your heels like this and slamming. You can probably hear that. It’s nice and controlled. And you can do that with a chalk line. Or like this. I just put some rocks out. Stand in that square and you should be basically staying in the square just like this. Bring those knees up a little bit. My heels are never touching and I’m not all over the place. Nice and controlled.

Working on my proprioception, my balance, and my foot ankle lower leg strength. Once I’ve done that, then I could probably start doing an easy jog or an easy run I should say. We really don’t jog. That’s a jarring motion. An easy run with more minimalistic shoes if I’m already there. It’s going to help me be able to run more barefoot and slowly progress up so I can do those things without injuring myself.

These exercises are also great for foot rehab from Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, those sorts of things. And help your overall balance and health. Thanks.

Comments

  1. I’ve tried all the things for PF, it’s better but I still have top of foot pain and burning! What to do now?? Thanks!!!!

    • Check out the PF video and the Foot Pain video talks about TOFP.

      • Thanks so much. I’ve looked at both and I’m doing those things. Back in June I had an MRI done and it showed a tear that was 75 percent. I wore a boot for 9 weeks then orthotics and physical therapy, but still have pain and burning on top of foot. I don’t know what else to do. I would love to start back running some day!!!!

  2. Thanks for another educational video. After struggling with tendonitis for the past 9 months I’ve been following your mehtods for the past month and just started with the balancing on the weekend so this was well timed!

    I’ve felt much bettter in the past few weeks and it’s been good to identify all the other things in my life that have been impacting on my recovery; e.g. over-training, stress, diet etc.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Jeff Haynes says:

    Great video! I have just done my first Cross country race last Saturday for 10 months (9K and very muddy) and managed it ok – the AT is under control but everything generally is sore! feet in particular, muscles joints. Think I still lack some foot and leg strength so I will start implementing these drills. My balance is pretty good but if I close my eyes I really lose my it! I need to practise.
    Thanks Sock Doc.

  4. Thanks for posting this. Perfect timing for me as I have just had my first visit to a Physical Therapist to help me recover from ankle pain (after jumping too quickly into training with my Newtons) and she was recommending most of exactly what you described. Validation is always a good thing!

  5. I got an x ray and I’m told I don’t have a “normal foot” (bones have shifted over=flat feet). even though I’m strengthening, will it even matter if I don’t have a normal foot? I did the exercises and the bottom of my feet are pumped but I still feel like im walking on the inside of my feet. does it just take time to adjust or is it because the foot structure.

    • Typically the structure, such as the arch, has little or nothing to do with it. But there would of course be no way to know w/o seeing you so always good to see a doc or therapist who can evaluate that for you.

  6. Thanks doc, I’ll guess ill see ya in 6 months :/

  7. Gregorio Rodriguez says:

    Hello Doc, I just found your website yesterday. Recently I have had really sore calves. Prior to that I have had PF and AT. I really want to try your barefoot excercizes. My questions is since I’m just starting out how ofter a day should do these barefoot excercizes (standing on one foot, toe raises, running in place)?

    Thanks!

  8. Nick Anson says:

    Been suffering with plantar / heel pain for close to 2 years and have tried everything with little to no improvement. Been to different doctors and have spent near 1000 dollars on inserts, orthotics, new shoes, night boots etc. All sports and fitness have been stopped cold with barely enough strength to get through work. Your site and advise is next in a long list of cures ive tried. Going to start with foot balancing and towel scrunches . Im 45 with low bmi and outwardly healthy appearance but cant beat a 90 year old in a foot race !

    • So, Nick, any improvement yet? Woiuld like to hear if this is workign for you. I’ve had a similar experience, finding no help from other docs. Was wondering if the Sock Doc is helping you?

  9. Hello Doc, first my words of appreciation for what you’re doing. I consistently find that public health service fails to deliver good results. The doctors I meet don’t work in right way. The don’t educate me so that I can understand where my problem could be coming from. Instead I get bunch of exercises that usually is good for most.

    I have left knee pain for about 3,5 half years that has been on growing spree in last year.
    My left knee is making clicking sound, and it it’s painful to climb the stairs, but recently also little bit painful to descendent. In last two months I haven been given exercises from NHS physio that targets knee area and also itband stretches. At the same time I’ve started to have pain around knee area on daily basis even when resting. I should probably add do on summers I mountain cycle a lot, and that increase pain for few days after.

    Seeing no improvement I’ve started looking for solution myself and I found your site.
    I stopped stretching and started exercising like you recommend in the above video. That lead me to a find that my knee problem is only side effect. Those exercises revealed that my left ankle has mobility problem.
    Squat test shows huge disproportion between my legs. All the hits and walking feedback forces are going to my knee as ankle is in sort of protective mode.

    I’ve modified my died to be get less energy from carbs and more from proteins and fats.
    Now I’m getting good on standing on one leg ( each of them ), I can do one minute quite easily.
    I also can do up to 10 repetitions of standing on my toes.

    I’ve added one more exercise, not sure if it’s good for me or you can propose something else.
    I lean against the wall and try to pass my toes with the knee.
    During that exercise my left ankle feels stiff or like if someone put wedge exactly in the middle of it.
    What do you think of it?

    Thank you in advance.

  10. Hi Dr. Gangemi,
    I was referred to your teachings for foot strengthening exercises by my local doc who also has been helping me tremendously, to continue with running, something I truly enjoy. I’ve had recurring injuries, especially after I run on a treadmill.

    I have watched your video on foot strengthening and performed the exercises for the past two days, and noticed a difference right away.

    My question is, since my left foot and (I think my hip muscles) are weaker than my right, due to having surgery on my left foot several years ago, should I do strengthening for the left foot only, in order to make it gain strength, then work on the right foot…..or does it matter.

    Thanks for your teachings and your help.
    Janice

    • It probably doesn’t matter but ideally you need to see someone who knows how to properly deal with the injury-muscle fatigue pattern you are possibly still having.

  11. Hi Doctor,

    I was looking for remedies for my feet problem for a while as well to address my son’ concerns with his feet.
    To start with my son: he is 11 and plays tennis competitively .During last few months he started complaining about his knees and sometimes about his lower back .Short story, we saw a physiotherapist who diagnosed him with flat feet and he recommended orthotics.
    In the same time, and my case I went through other issues including bunion and I ended up with some shoe inserts. My whole life I was pretty active with playing all sorts of sports and recently I noticed that I have hard time playing my favourite sport –soccer while wearing the inserts.
    Additionally, I was talking with my son’s coach (he is 28 years) and he mentioned he was wearing the inserts starting when he was 12 but he still has issues.
    Those aspects raised my concerns about the validity of orthotics as a solution for my and my son’ problems. Then I noticed your site and I am commenting on your post kindly requesting your feedback.
    Cheers

  12. Mimi Trentini says:

    I am struggling w/foot pain. I would like yo look at your video Foot Strength, Foot Rehab.. Bug the video is not working. I hopd you can fix it. Thanks. I’ve done months of PT, wear arch supports when I workour and I am in pain all the time. I am hoping yo get more info on triggerpoints, etc. Thank you