During the course of a day, your feet, like the rest of your body, gradually lose steam. But with the exercises below, you can learn how to re-energize your feet even when you're seated at a desk, at home in front of the television, in class, or on an airplane, train, or bus.
In any of these situations, you can do at least one, if not all, of the following pick-me-ups designed especially for feet that do not get to move around much throughout the day. Each of these exercises should be done while you are seated.
Foot Relaxer: Start by relaxing and loosening the muscles and joints of your feet by shaking them (the same way you'd shake out cramped muscles in your fingers and hands). Then wiggle your toes, first on one foot, then the other.
Foot Press: With your feet on the floor, take your shoes off and place one foot on top of the other. Press the top one down toward the floor while pulling up with the bottom foot -- but don't let your feet separate. This can be a little tricky!
Toe Tap: With your feet on the floor, tap your toes, or pretend that you're pressing down on a pedal, first with one foot, then with the other foot.
Toe Writing: With your feet on the floor and your shoes off, use your toes to "write" the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z, on the floor.
The Grip: With your feet on the floor and your shoes off, try picking up a pencil or pen with your toes. Or try picking up a marble (if you happen to have one lying around).
Page Rippler: With your feet on the floor and your shoes off, place a phone book under your feet, with its binding facing your body. Curl your toes over the far edge and try to ripple the pages.
Once you have revitalized your feet with these seated exercises, you might want to massage your feet a bit. It's a great way to cap off your mini foot workout. See the foot massage page in this article for tips, or try the suggestions below.
Roller Massage: If you're sitting at home with your shoes off, place a rolling pin under one foot. Roll back and forth on the pin with that foot; then do the same with the other foot. This is a way of giving yourself a foot massage without pulling your feet into your lap or getting down on the floor. If you like this, you might even take a rolling pin to the office; then, several times throughout the day, take your shoes off and "roll" the tension out of your feet. This "roller massage" will also work with a tall, narrow bottle. Some people use smaller "rollers" including golf balls and even marbles.
Flex and Point: Try this at home or at the office if there's a way you can prop your legs up so that they're facing straight out in front of you and are parallel to the floor. (In the office, you might prop them on a high stool or another chair; if you're sitting on the couch at home, use the coffee table.) Point your toes forward, like a ballerina pointing her extended foot, and hold that position for 15 seconds. Then relax your toes and reposition your feet so that your toes are pointing toward the ceiling. Repeat this routine -- flex and point ahead of you, then relax and point to the ceiling -- ten times.
Curl and Turn: With your legs propped up in front of you and parallel to the floor, curl your toes, and then (keeping your heels on the surface where they're propped) turn your feet inward. Hold this position for five seconds. Then allow your toes and feet to return to their former, relaxed position.
Purse Lift: [For women] With your back pressed straight against the back of the chair, drape the strap of your purse over one foot. Keeping your knee bent, raise your foot until the purse hangs suspended in the air. Hold that position as long as you can, then lower your foot. Switch the purse to the other foot and repeat the exercise.
If you think these re-energizing techniques are helpful, check out the stretches for stressed-out feet on the next page.
To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit: