It’s no surprise there’s an uptick in foot injuries come summer. You can strain your feet walking or running in the sand or even stepping on something sharp. But even switching from laced-up footwear to flat sandals can cause problems, because your feet aren’t prepared for the lack of support. “We see so many cases of plantar fasciitis (swelling of the tissue in the sole of the foot) and sprains at the start of summer,” says marathon runner and sports podiatrist, Marybeth Crane, DPM. “And it’s most often due to overuse — simply too much, too soon.”
Fortunately there are ways to strengthen, stretch and prep your feet for barefoot steps in the sand. Here, Crane offers a pre-beach warmup that can double as a strengthening session, along with some post-walk or run stretches, to soothe your soles.
Step around your house barefoot for five minutes, to warm up and bring circulation into your feet.
2. DO YOUR ABCs
Take a seat and draw the alphabet with each foot, using your big toe as the ‘pen.’ Complete the alphabet one or two times with each foot. This move activates nearly every muscle in your foot.
3. SCRUNCH A TOWEL
This simple move strengthens the tiny muscles between your toes, which helps protect them from strains. Grab a dish or hand towel, and place it on the floor beneath your foot. Ideally, you can place the towel on a hard surface, like wood or tile, for easiest slip. Start scrunching the towel beneath your toes, pulling it completely toward you before switching feet and repeating on the other side. As you get stronger, graduate to a larger towel or repeat the scrunches three times.