Y.E.S. News

Wiggle Your Toes to Get Better Balance

National Wiggle Your Toes Day

Whoops!! Time flew by and we missed National Wiggle Your Toes Day. Yup, there is actually a National Wiggle Your Toes Day. We bet you are asking yourself, what ties fitness and wiggling your toes together? Postural control and dynamic stability require the integration of four input systems – visual, vestibular, joint proprioceptors and plantar foot skin.  The skin on the bottom of the foot is often overlooked but is very important.



The skin on the bottom of the foot contains thousands of small nerve proprioceptors all of which are sensitive to different stimuli.   One of the most important stimuli coming into the foot is vibration.  We use vibration not only to know how hard our foot is striking the ground but also in the maintenance of dynamic balance. As soon as we put on our shoes our nervous system inherently becomes slower. This delayed neuro stimulation of the foot is small which means it is hard to detect by the person and effects their balance.


The skin on the bottom of the foot has very unique proprioceptors which are sensitive to different stimulation.   This stimulation includes vibration, light touch, deep pressure, texture and skin stretch. Research shows that as little as 5 minute of manual trigger point release is associated with an immediate improvement in single leg stability and postural control. There are various inexpensive massage tools ranging from different size balls, foam rollers and sticks to help improve the foot’s sensitivity. An easy way to fit massage into your busy schedule is to perform the massage while sitting and eating, sitting at the computer, or watching television.



Okay, so maybe trying wiggling your toes and fitness is a reach but one of the most challenging issues that affect older adults is instability and loss of balance. Improving balance is vital for improving the quality of life. Optimal balance requires input from both our in space and our external environment. Improving one’s foot proprioception will help with instability and loss of balance.



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