When I ran track in college, it was mandatory that we attended a yoga session every Saturday. While most of my teammates despised sitting in hip-opening, hamstring-loosening poses for an hour, I loved it. One day after a session, I was talking to my teacher when she suggested I roll my feet out for five minutes before and after workouts. I had heard of foam rolling your body, but never rolling out your feet. She gave me a lacrosse ball and told me to roll it over my entire foot — the ball of my foot, arch, and heel. After, I tested my flexibility in a forward fold and was actually able to touch the ground without straining! Now, it's something I have to do before and after every workout.
"The foot and ankle complex is the base that the entire body uses as a platform for running, jumping, and most performance-based exercises," said Rick Richey, MS, licensed massage therapist and co-owner of ReCOVER NYC. Our feet take a lot of pounding and wear and tear, which can lead to ankle, calf, and hamstring problems. This is because our feet are one part of our kinetic chain — the concept that the joints and segments in our body have an effect on one another during movement. So if you're dealing with a tight arch, you'll more than likely feel the effects in other areas of your body. Rick added, "If the calves and other muscles in and around the foot/ankle complex are tight, it can limit mobility, which might translate up the kinetic chain as dysfunction."
Rick agrees foam-rolling your calves and the bottoms of your feet will "increase the range of motion needed to help the joints of the human movement system function more efficiently." Grab a lacrosse ball and get to rolling!