You probably know that it’s important to stretch your legs, arms, back, core – but did you know that your hands and feet need stretching, too?
The purpose of stretching is to maintain full range of motion around a joint. When we have full range of motion, we’re less likely to compensate and alter our movement patterns. Altered movements can lead to muscle imbalance, distorted posture, and can lead to injury.
So, think about your feet and hands and how often they are in a flexed position throughout the day – your feet flexed as you walk or stand, your hands flexed while driving or typing. It’s pretty easy to see that we’re not usually moving our hands and feet through their full range of motion. I thought I’d share some of my favorite stretches for hands and feet that help to reduce unwanted tension (often, tension we didn’t know was there until we stretch!) and possibly prevent injury.
Stretches for hands:
- Start seated in a comfortable position. Extend your arms out to your sides. With your index finger and thumb of each hand, make an “O” shape. Tap each finger to your thumb (on the same hand), making the “O” shape as round as possible with your fingers. After you’ve done each finger, tap each finger to your thumb again, trying to keep your fingers as straight as possible.
- Extend your arms out to your sides again, then wrap your thumb into your hand and the rest of our fingers around your thumb. (So you’re making a fist.) Keeping your fist clenched, angle your fingers, down towards the floor, feeling the stretch on the inner part of your forearms and wrists.
- Place your fingertips on the floor towards your body (so the top of your hand is on the floor) then gently press your palm towards the floor. This is a great stretch to open up the tops of the wrists that are so often flexed and shortened.
Stretches for feet:
- Sit in a comfortable chair and place a towel on the floor in front of you. Use your toes to grab the towel, and maybe lift it off the floor an inch or two. Hold it here for 3 deep breaths, then release. This stretch is especially helpful for those who experience plantar fasciitis.
- Stand, holding onto something sturdy like a countertop for balance. Bring your weight into your left leg and slightly bend the knee. Lift up your right foot, and put it back down (top of your foot to the floor); press your toenails into the floor and try to get as much of the top of that foot onto the floor as you can. Take a deep breath and slide your right foot forward 2-4 inches. You’ll feel an amazing stretch on the top of the foot, opening up the ankle that’s so often flexed.
- Still standing, using a tennis ball or small soft ball, gently roll each foot on top of the ball. When you find a spot that feels particularly sticky, hold it here for a few breaths.