With marathon season in full swing, Marc Brown, strength & conditioning coach at PerformancePro, offers up some exercises to firm up your feet and provide a springboard for long-distance success.

When we run, our feet and ankles continuously deal with high-impact forces from each foot striking the ground, and 30 per cent of all running injuries are located at the foot and ankle, with approximately 25 per cent of all runners suffering an injury in this region at some point in their running life.

Which is to say, if you want to prevent injury and enhance performance, you need to look after your feet and ankles.

There are a number of exercises I always take my clients through, and while it’s easy to overlook such drills – they might seem simple and too easy – but they won’t take long to perform and could make all the difference to your running.  

Work through them at the start of your gym session or include them as part of your running warm-up.

Five Exercises for Foot Strength

foot strength exercises for marathon training Men's Fitness UK

Towel Curls (2 sets x 20 reps)

  • Towel curls are a great place to start and can be performed anywhere.
  • Stand on a towel and pull it towards you by scrunching your toes.
  • Control the movement and ensure the ankles and knees remain straight throughout.

Toe Walks (1 x 20m)

  • Rise up onto the toes and walk at a steady pace with small steps of about a foot in length.
  • Remain tall and keep the knees straight throughout.
  • Ensure that you walk forwards with only your toes in contact with the floor.

Heel Walks (1 x 20m)

  • Pull your toes up towards your shins, so your toes and the balls of your feet are off the floor.
  • Again, walk at a steady pace with small steps of about a foot in length.
  • Your knees should remain straight and weight should be through the heels at all times.

Toe Taps (2 x 15)

  • Stand in one spot. Working one foot at a time, lift toes towards the shins then slap down with intent. 
  • Keep the knee straight throughout and really try to drive the toes into the floor with force
  • Perform all 15 reps on one leg, then repeat on the other.

Pogo Jumps (2 x 15)

  • These are a little more advanced, but they’re well worth practicing to perfect technique.
  • With both legs, simultaneously jump in the air and pull your toes up towards your shins.
  • Slap your toes down with intent upon contact with the ground (like you did with the toe taps).
  • There should be minimal knee bend when landing and you want to spend as little time on the ground as possible.

foot strength exercises for marathon training Men's Fitness UK

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