If you suffer from knee, hip, or lower back pain, it might be related to something you’d probably never think of – weak muscles in your feet. Our toes, heels and feet are put under a lot of pressure each day. They’re responsible for getting us around, holding us up, and carrying our body weight. If you’re experiencing body pain, the key to relief might lie in taking better care of your feet. And that’s where foot exercises come in.

Sure, wearing supportive and comfortable shoes and splurging for a foot massage every once in a while can help keep your feet happy and reduce body aches. But perhaps the most important way to take care of your feet is to exercise them. Regularly working the muscles in your toes and feet can help improve your balance and strengthen your base, and that may help reduce body aches and pain.

Perform these four foot exercises regularly:

1. Resisted Plantar Flexion

This is a simple but highly effective exercise that targets all of the muscles in your feet. Strengthening these muscles can help promote balance and prevent injury. To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair
  2. Extend one leg straight out in front of you
  3. Wrap an exercise band around the ball of your foot so that it covers your toes, and hold it firmly
  4. Point your toes forward and press the ball of your foot onto the band, while holding it steady
  5. Flex for five seconds, then return to your original resting position
  6. Continue for a total of 15 reps, 2 times per day

2. Ankle Circles

Your ankles are also an important body part to work in order to avoid back and joint pain. Weak ankles tend to tighten, which leads to increased stress throughout your body. To perform this exercise:

  1. Lay on your back and bring one leg up over your head
  2. Circle your ankle around clockwise while you count to 10
  3. Switch directions and rotate counterclockwise for another 10 seconds
  4. Switch legs and repeat
  5. Perform this exercise 3 times per day

3. Toe Presses

Putting your toes to work can help warm up the muscles in your feet. This exercise will get your blood flowing and help with flexibility. To perform this exercise:

  1. Start in a standing position and bend slightly at the knees
  2. Place a small ball in front of you
  3. Flex your toes and use them to grip the ball
  4. Hold for four seconds then release
  5. Do 10 reps, 3 times per day

4. Toe Walking

This exercise will help work the muscles in your toes, the balls of your feet, as well as your ankles. Walking on your toes may seem more like kids play, but it’s one of the top foot exercises to try. To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand on the tips of your toes and walk for at least 20 seconds
  2. Come down off of your tiptoes and rest for 10 seconds, then repeat
  3. Perform 6 reps, 2 times per day

Sun Gazing
Real Simple
Everyday Health