Why rolling the bottom of your foot is so important
The sole of the foot is often an area we don’t think about much… that is until it becomes painful! However, even if you don’t have a condition like plantar fasciitis, it is often a good idea to work on relaxing the muscles on the bottom of the foot.
Believe it or not, there are actually 4 separate layers of muscles on the sole of the foot. Many of these muscles are very small, making stretching them very difficult. So, how can we best relax them? By massaging them!
You can use your hand to massage them but the best, and easiest way I have found is by using either a golf ball or lacrosse ball and pressing the foot into it. Of note, you want to avoid massaging the heel bone as too much force in this area can sometimes irritate the insertion of the plantar fascia.
It is normal to experience some pain while massaging them but it shouldn’t be too intense – if it is, then you may want to consult with either your doctor or physiotherapist.
Why is Massaging the sole of the foot important?
The sole of the foot is where the major lower extremity peripheral nerves terminate (see photo below). These nerves end up supplying other muscles higher up in the leg before finishing in the foot. If there is compression of the nerves in the sole of the foot from tightness in the foot muscles, then it can actually cause muscles higher up in the leg to become a bit tighter as their common nerve supply will be a bit sensitized.
When in your Stretching Routine should you massage your foot?
I often advocate to my patients that they START any stretching routine by first massaging the sole of the foot. This will help the other muscles in the leg become easier to stretch as their common nerve supply will be less sensitive. I then recommend stretching or massaging the remaining muscles by starting from the foot and then working up the leg towards the spine.
As always, this advice may not be appropriate for you if you are suffering from an acute, painful foot injury or condition. Likewise, if you have a foot deformity, or have had foot surgery, then this may not be appropriate. However, if in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office to chat with us about it!
Registered Physiotherapist, Co-Owner of Thrive Now Physiotherapy