movement 101

Expand your mobility, strength & control. ​​​

Essentials for BULLETPROOFING your feet in the modern world. 

Foot pathology and deformities are an epidemic in our modern world DESPITE having access to the BEST foot wear . Plantar fisciitis, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, bunions, hammer toes, fat pad migration, neuromas, stress fractures, rigid arches, collapsed arches, etc. The majority of our population has stiff, weak feet and minimal control of the muscles.   

Wondering why? Want to do something about it?

Toe spreaders are a powerful tool to mitigate the side effects of footwear.  
They do more than just regain the natural architecture of your foot.  They :

  • improve intrinsic muscle control
  • ​improve balance + stability
  • restore foot function & relive pain
  • changing your foot changes your entire body

I also recommend doing the "Human Toe Spreader Exercise" on a daily basis and before activity.  As Podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal points out ...Stimulation of mechanoreceptors around your plantar plates pre-activity has shown to improve movement accuracy during activity (Steinberg et al. 2015).   So you don't need to run barefoot but stimulate the mechanoreceptos before you run and you will perform better.

Don't believe me?  Try this 30 sec drill on one foot and then stand up and compare feet    Sensory input is one of the most important contributors to motor output.  This is where the problem with "cushioned" shoes begins. Shoes = ear muffs.

1. Lift Spread Reach

7. Hips

The Human Toe Spreader

  • interlace fingers and toes
  • squeeze fingers together then spread apart
  • squeeze fingers again while flexing and extending the toes
  • ​keep squeezing the fingers while you twist the foot both ways
  • release

where to start

6. Ankles


Take home message. 

We live in the modern world.  We need to wear shoes.  Some of us even need orthotics.  

That is okay.

Shoes and orthotics can be a great tool but be aware of the side effects, choose minimalist footwear or barefeet when you can ( this must be earned) and take the time to mobilize & strengthen your foot. 

Orthotics are like braces and we would never brace any other body part and not strengthen it. Right?  

* make sure your pinky is moving too!

expand your foot

​​​I can't emphasize enough how much hip function is intertwined with foot function. 

These are my top 3 hip exercises. Talk to your physio for regressions, progressions and more specific exercises to you.

Learn about footwear and make mindful choices.

Dress shoes, orthotics and cushioned shoes don't need to be banned.   As @clayton.moves says "frequency of exposure" is what matters.  For example, I run in orthotics and wear high heels Saturday night but at home I choose barefeet with toe spreaders and I have a collection of foot strength and mobility exercises that keep my feet happy.

Another important point > If you've worn orthotics and stiff shoes for decades DON'T start wearing minimalist shoes 24 hours a day.  Start gradually.  It's like taking off a will be stiff and weak.  This is an adaptive process.

1. Set up with the best foot architecture you can :

  • Lift Spread Reach (you can't activate foot core with a twisted foot)
  • Find Your foot Tripod.  Disperse weight evenly. 

2. Activate foot core or "short foot" :

  • root the tip of the big toe into the ground
  • think of suction cupping the floor, lifting your arch up and away from the floor or wrinkling the floor

3. Do NOT curl your toes.

There are 26 bones under your ankle and 1/4 of the muscles in your body.  Your foot was meant to be powerful.  You should be able to use all of those joints and muscles.  Can you?

  • can you move your big toe and not your other toes?
  • can you move your forefoot and not the rest of your foot?
  • ​can you move your foot 3 dimensionally side to side? Your foot was made for more than just flat surfaces and the inside of your shoes.

2. Dissociation Drills

4. Big Toe


Your foot ​is a highly

powerful neuromuscular structure.

1/4 of the muscles in your body

     1/4 of the bones in your body   

33 joints   

107+ ligaments   

​    8000+ nerves  

Science says your feet NEED to work, you NEED forefoot splay & you NEED to feel the ground.

Tight supportive cushioned shoes

will give you weak, stiff, deformed, sensitive feet.

This is what you'll find me doing while watching a movie or reading a book.  Watch out for cramping!  If your can't control your foot muscles you will experience neurological confusion = CRAMPING.  Daily doses and cramping will get better.

This is a fabulous exercise that can be done anywhere.

Even inside your shoes.

  • LIFT - this gets you out of the flexor pattern of toe curling
  • SPREAD - helps regain forefoot splay
  • REACH - lengthens your dynamic extrinsics which helps align the foot

9. Walking

Other ways to challenge  foot core.  Also see FUNCTIONAL EXERCISES below.

If your ankle is stiff or not working optimally your foot will 100% try to compensate for it.  This is a huge cause of non-optimal foot loading.    Figure of 8's are one of my favourite ankle mobility drills.  Hunt for asymmetries side to side and make the biggest 8's you can.  Wind out ( horizontal) + Wind down ( vertical).

Your foot is designed to be a mobile adaptor.  Your loading response should be for your foot to spring....LENGTHEN and WIDEN...pronate.  Many people, before the foot even hits the ground, have a rigid, braced, tense foot that resembles more of a claw than a spring.


Below are my favourites from basic to globally integrated functional exercises.

5. Foot Core

3. Couch Drills for Mobility, Strength, Dexterity & Control

Get your hands on a pair of toe spreaders. 

I recommend The Foot Collective ( very comfortable, great price point and I carry them in the clinic) or Correct Toes.   

You can wear them sitting, sleeping, walking, during activity and even inside approved foot wear.  Just remember, this is an adaptive process so increase your exposure to them gradually.


8. Integrated Entire Body Functional Exercises