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Not sure what the muscle is called, or if there is more than one, but seems like there is a muscle under my feet going from somewhere close to the heel and forward to where the toes are "attached".

I seem to get tired there quite easily, and sometimes it hurts a little (mostly like a sore muscle hurts) after walking a lot or jumping around.

Is there a way I can strengthen this muscle? Preferably without any equipment.

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What kind of exercise do you do? Because the advice might differ for weightlifting vs running. –  Ivo Flipse Jun 1 '11 at 13:14
    
Well, what I did this time was jump roping without shoes. But I sometimes get it from just walking a lot too. Not often, but sometimes. –  Svish Jun 1 '11 at 16:53
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That probably means you were jumping while landing on your toes all the time, this puts huge strains on your plantar fascia (the tendon under your foot). So its no surprise it started to hurt :-) I'm sure it will become less with practice though. –  Ivo Flipse Jun 1 '11 at 17:01
    
Yeah, and it was the first time I did it, and I did it for a while, so can't say I was particularly nice to my body, hehe. Got a bit too into it... hehe. Will try to be nicer when I start up again. There isn't a way to not land on your toes though, is it? I mean, landing on your heal would not be good, wood it? :p –  Svish Jun 1 '11 at 19:39
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No, I wouldn't advice you to land on your heels. Instead, take it easy and instead of going for one long jump-rope session followed by massive muscle soreness, built up the intensity and duration more slowly. Moderation goes a long way. –  Ivo Flipse Jun 1 '11 at 20:26

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Sounds like you already figured out how to strengthen it. Yes, there are several different muscles in the foot. The only way to strengthen any muscle is to use it.

Many times, wearing shoes prevents many of your foot muscles from activating, which also prevents them from getting stronger. They don't have to activate because the shoe is providing the stability that the muscle normally would.

You can do "barefoot running" to help build them up. Or you can do your exercises without shoes on. You'll find that you'll have to ramp up slowly. Perhaps start with 100m and increase 10% each time you run.

The good news for you is that you really can't strengthen them with equipment.

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+1, contingent on inclusion of "ramp up slowly". Your feet need a lot more joint and tendon strengthening and give less feedback than other muscle areas. I think 10% is a little much, though - that would be close to 2km after a month, and a marathon after two months. –  Kevin Vermeer Jun 6 '11 at 2:16
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As much as the 100% barefoot movement glosses over it, running barefoot is a good way to cut your foot open. So minimal running shoes are a pretty good idea, and could count as "equipment". I'm talking about thin soled, flexible shoes which protect you from cuts and scrapes, but don't cushion you or prevent you feeling the ground. –  slim Jul 14 '11 at 13:25
    
Agreed. Funnily enough, most "barefoot runners" I've conversed with use the minimalist shoes. –  Berin Loritsch Jul 14 '11 at 13:52
    
I find skipping really targets the muscles of the foot –  silasdavis Sep 5 '11 at 18:00

I started running mixed with walking a year ago.

Because I had never exercised for more than 10 years before that, I started from a very simple step. The very first time I did last year was I walked for only 60 meters and no running at all, and that's it, I got home and tired already. But that's my history, now I can walk more running actually than walk for 4 km and I often still want to do more and more when I got home. I can also walk in my weekend morning for 15 km and I don't feel hurt on my feet.

I continued exercising persistently, being disciplined to exercise 2 - 5 times a week.

I feel good, fresh, fit and more productive. My body feels lightweight, being from 110kg of bodyweight last year to 75kg now. But I don't think I grew my muscles that much on my feet.

I tried You Are Your Own Gym (YAYOG) by Mark Lauren 3 weeks ago, this book contains 111 clearly illustrated exercises, including muscles for feet. After practicing it for 3 weeks, I know my glutes (buttocks and hip flexors), quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (rear of thigh), calves muscles being stretched and stronger. I couldn't do squats the first time I tried it I felt dizzy, I think that's because of my Vertigo. But I kept trying verrry slowly to go down as far as I could, I only could go down for about 10 cm as far as I remember, if I went down lower than that my kind of vertigo dizziness attacked me. But I'm happy to say that is also my history now :-) Now I can do squats exactly like Mark's photo example from his book. I know I'm sure my body movement is correct because I can feel the right muscle being stretched. Just to mention one of many creative exercises to strengthen feet muscles from YAYOG practice.

I combine running almost every morning and YAYOG to strengthen my body. As I'm still early on YAYOG, so I'm not sure, but I feel that my feet muscles help me lift my body to run/walk more easily than ever when I run/walk. My balance seems to be improved.

P.S. Oh, I actually want to add additional comment for Berin's answer above me on barefoot running, but it seems I can't do that because I don't see the comment link as I'm used to see on stackoverflow site, just make sure the road is good and safe enough to do that, I did barefoot running several times a long time ago, but then I stopped because my doctor adviced me to keep wearing my shoes on. She said some of her patients got diabetes not long after they stepped on nail on the street.

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I know from experience that this is normal when starting barefoot training. Be careful and start slow. If you get delayed onset muscle soreness there or in your calves, another common point, it could last for days or a week. Get help if pain becomes chronic or if you have an injury. jumproping is a great way to strengthen your feet and ankles, as is barefoot walking and running. I use Vibram fivefinger shoes for that purpose to help my ankle, calf, and foot strength for breaststroke.

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Do you use Vibram fivefinger shoes for regular walking as well? –  Svish Jun 23 '11 at 12:41
    
When I am walking for cross-training I usually wear them. I sometimes do 3-5 mile hikes at a fast pace using them, but I had to start with less. For going to the store I'm more likely to wear shoes or sandals. –  Peter DeWeese Jun 23 '11 at 14:34
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I wear Fivefingers pretty much all of the time, except when I'm with people who don't like it (they exist!). It's done wonders for my posture and for my ability to stay standing up for long periods. –  slim Jul 14 '11 at 13:28

Aside from doing exercises, i am taking omega 3 fish oil ultimate supplement to supercharge and strengthen my muscle. According to our PT in our basketball team it is helpful that you will take supplements and eat proteins a lot.

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It would help if you'd explain the exercises you are doing. –  Baarn Nov 12 '12 at 20:42

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