Number 1. Vibram FiveFingers- These small, more recently popular shoes are fantastic foot and lower leg strengtheners. They support your natural gait by allowing you to actually feel the surface you are walking on and react accordingly, which tends to equal less impact on your joints, more careful walking, and enhanced absorption by your body working together as one unit. Our FiveFingers here are the Komodo version designed for outdoor trail use. Learn more at www.vibramfivefingers.com
Number 2. Second most down on the left is a basic yoga strap. This simple tool allows you to stretch your legs and hips with more ease and proper alignment. It’s lightweight and easy to pack along on hiking trips. A belt can also be used. My favorite stretch post-hike is to be face up on the ground with one leg in the air and strap around the ball of the foot. The other leg is straight and both hips are aligned. Gently hold the strap with your arms and enjoy the deep calf, hamstring, and hip stretch. Feel the groin stretch by taking the leg out to the side, or emphasize the outer hip/IT Band by slowly taking the leg inwards to the middle of the body without allowing your hips off the ground. Breathe! The same stretch can be done while standing.
Number 3. Enjoy a self-massage from a softer tennis ball, firm golf ball, or Rubz massage ball from REI to increase circulation and decrease tension in the bottom of the foot. Great for before and after. Check out REI for the Rubz product here http://www.rei.com/product/706082/surefoot-foot-rubz
Number 4. An ice pack is an essential tool for the entire body including the feet! Stand on it, wrap it around your foot or ankle while its elevated or while your sleeping to help heal any tender spots. 10-20 minutes depending on the location and how insulated the ice pack is.
Number 5. Nikken magnetic insoles. This product is an interesting tool designed to help increase circulation throughout the feet using magnetic energy, but at the same time provide a massage using small bumps that press into pressure points. One side is flat if the bumps feel too intense. Within 20 minutes of wearing these foot insoles, I could feel the energy flowing throughout my entire body. Make sure to stay hydrated and gradually increase the time you wear them. Great for day use in the office or running errands, but not for hiking and exercise as they do limit foot proprioception, traction, and flexibility. Learn more about Nikken insoles and other health products here http://www.nikken.com/
Number 6. A good massage oil cannot be stressed enough. Learning how to self-massage after a long work day, hike trip, or barefoot run is vital to long-term foot health. Try massaging in between the tops of your toes, your arch, and calves to decrease tension. Placing your fingers in between your toes and moving around in small circles is a simple and effective way to gain flexibility in the foot. The product shown here is from Earth Therapeutics and contains tea tree oil from Australia! http://www.earththerapeutics.net/prodinfo.asp?number=9654