The One Area Most People Don't Stretch After Their Workout

Whether you're cooling down from a run, a spin class, a boot camp, or a strength training session, taking a few minutes to stretch can go a long way towards helping your body cool down and begin the process of recovery. But in addition to stretching the major muscle groups you've used during your workout, like your quads or hamstrings, it's also important to remember to give your feet some TLC. No matter what workout you've done, the muscles in your feet have been working hard to keep you stable, and especially if you're a runner, they should be stretched just as often as your other muscle groups.

"We kind of forget about our feet sometimes when it comes to running, so make sure you find ways to stretch the soles of your feet—especially if you've done anywhere from three to five miles," Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland told Well+Good

The good news is that stretching your toes and arches is easy and only takes a few lazy minutes on the floor. (If you can't get to it immediately post-run, do it later while you're watching TV at home with your shoes off.) A simple stretch includes sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you and using a towel or strap to gently pull your toes towards your torso until you feel a stretch in your foot. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and release (via Active).

Stretch now, avoid foot problems later

"Foot function tends to be low on most people's priority list," physical therapist Tyler Nightingale told Greatist. "But your feet are the foundation of your body and the first point of contact in a chain of joints that make up your lower quarter." Ignore foot pain or tightness for too long, and you might end up sidelined with an injury. Nightingale recommends using a lacrosse ball as a self-massage tool: While standing, roll your foot over the ball front to back and side to side in order to release muscle tension. 

If you can spend some time out of your shoes at work, another easy way to get your toes stretched and strengthened is to simply place your feet on the floor and spread your toes as far apart as possible, holding for a few seconds. And while you're barefoot, if you have the ability to walk barefoot in sand, walking on that soft surface will help gently stretch your foot as well — so a beach cool down is a great way to end a workout (via Medical News Today)!