The magic ball

I often get asked if I know any good exercises for strengthening tendons and relieving pain in the feet. My first advice is always to wear the correct shoes. I do know some exercises though, which I’ll write in another post, but my best tip of all time involves a small rubber ball.

Knobbly ballBefore I explain, let me emphasize that I’m no expert and I’m not qualified to give health advice. If you’ve got severe foot issues do seek the help of a podiatrist, physiotherapist or see your GP.

I was introduced to this little miracle while undergoing some pretty intense rehab for a work injury some years ago (there were so many useful things for tango that I learnt from that experience which I’ll share in due course). Placed under the foot at three points, and stood on with full weight, it instantly relieves tension (tightness) in the tendons of the foot and the muscles that wrap up around the leg. I’ve been standing on this thing every morning for 5 years now. My feet are happy and I haven’t had leg cramps in years.

My ball is actually a cat toy, made of hard rubber with knobbly bits all over. I got it when I lived in the US and haven’t seen anything exactly the same here. Zooplus and eBay have ones that look similar but I can’t tell whether they’re hard or squeezable rubber. However, any small, hard rubber ball will do the trick.

How to use it:

  1. Place on the floor (hard surface for full effect but carpet is fine) and stand on it with the heel of one foot. Press down hard. Roll it a little back and forth.
  2. Lift your foot and press down with the area behind your fourth and little toe. Roll.
  3. Finally, press down under the big toe joint and then roll.
  4. Do the same with the other foot.

It will hurt the first time you use it but it will quickly feel good and then become addictive! You’ll find that one foot feels less tense than the other. For long term use, once a day is good. For immediate relief, use whenever you need it, especially during a tango marathon or during a break in a workshop. You can use it sitting down but it works best when standing.

Wishing you happy, healthy feet!



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