This Foot Exercise Will Actually Release Muscles from Head to Toe


And we're back!

I hope your July has been full of summer fun! I've gotten some serious work done in the studio and had a great time relaxing with my family.

I was going to wait until August to share this new video with you, but I have been so excited about this one that I just couldn't wait any longer!

The next 3 videos are part of a series we're calling: How to Release Your Feet.

In today's video you'll learn a foundational exercise I always assign to clients as homework. If you do this one every day, it will pay huge dividends.

You'll see how to release and hydrate the plantar fascia on the bottom of your feet and learn how tightness in your feet affects tightness down the entire back line of your body.

Consistent practice of this exercise will increase the mobility of your feet. The bones of your feet are designed to move with every step you take and this foot mobility actually influences how your ankles, knees, hips and spine all move and align with one another.

Ultimately, your feet help to calibrate the alignment of the rest of your body. So, when you lock your feet away in shoes, especially tight and/or rigid ones, it's going to have a negative impact on the whole system.

Locking your feet in little foot casts will necessarily interfere with your body's ability to balance and align with the ground as you walk and run.

Today's exercise is going to make your feet say, “Ahhhhh, thank you!”

I've learned a variety of ways to approach this exercise, but this specific protocol, which I learned from Marie-José Blom, is my favorite. It's methodical and ensures you'll get great results.

The feet play a vital role in the health of the body, and the more I work with people, the more I see the deep value of time spent focusing on the feet.

I recommend practicing this exercise at least three times a week, but more frequently is even better. If you try it out, or have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

See you in the studio!

Picture of Sydney


I’m here to help you get stronger and more flexible through alignment-based restorative exercise so you can enjoy all the activities you love in life. You can work with me in two convenient ways: digitally through the Pilates Tonic Online membership or personally with in-person Restorative Movement Sessions.

46 Responses

  1. I’m really glad this video just came out because I sent my sister in Va a green ball last week. She asked me where are the instructions? I will forward this to her, however, I did share what I’ve learned from you while I was visiting her. Thank you again!

  2. I can’t count the times the spike ball has help relieve back pain.

    I’m excited to share this with friends and family! Nice Sydney . My sister will be getting link to this asap 😉

  3. I love this! I’m coming over to buy the ball. I plan to do this everyday while working.
    Looking forward to “happy feet”!

    1. Hi Doneta, I get mine in bulk from Balanced Body, but the shipping charges are pretty high for one or two balls. You can also find them on Amazon if you search for 7cm green massage ball.

  4. Hello Sydney, I just came across your website and love this video. A couple questions when applying pressure to the ball am I using all my weight.?
    Also I think I’ve injured or strain my pelvic muscles while exercising which has my lower back very unhappy. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Carmen, You want to apply as much pressure as you can comfortably manage. If it’s painful, I would use less pressure. .
      The exercise in this video and in this one are very gentle exercises you could try for your lower back. The key in these exercises is your breath. Thank you for your feedback!

  5. Wow! My right hamstring is normally tight. I felt an amazing difference immediately! Between the fascia cat stretch and this foot release I’ll be a new person! Thank you!

  6. I am certain the exercises would really help me recover from the still tight muscles on the bottom of my foot after I dislocated my ankle! Where can I purchase a 5 inch diameter spike ball? I’ve looked extensively online without success. Please help!

  7. Hi Sydney, thanks so much for that nicely illustrated exercise. I am a Bowen Therapist, and we always do the better side first, as the brain will then try to ‘match’ motion and flow when we do the bad side. Total Motion Release (TMR) goes further: it only does the good side, and the bad side improves and corrects. So what is the Pilates philosophy of doing the worst foot first based on? I look forward to more videos from you.

    1. Hi Patricia, Thanks for your feedback and question. In this video I chose to start with the tighter side to help demonstrate the overall effectiveness of the exercise. Although, when I’m working with clients in the studio, I do usually start with the side that is easier for the client as a way to “show” the side that’s more challenging what’s possible. This isn’t a Pilates philosophy though, it’s something I learned from Marie-José Blom, who is an amazing teacher! She says we all have an “apprentice side and a teacher side” in our body and those words have always resonated with me. Thanks again!

  8. I just purchased a red spike ball today, I couldn’t find a green ball. I am a stylist and have had major foot and leg problems for eight years. I did these exercises with the red spike ball and my feet feel amazing. What difference is there between the red and green? I’ve been doing therapy exercises for eight years, if it make sense they feel better but worse. Recently I developed tendinitis in the 5th metatarsal in the middle of the outer right foot. I felt immediate relief but not sure if the red ball could be to stiff. Any suggestions?

  9. Do you have a similar exercise that targets the ligaments/muscles that surround the big toe and other toes? I have just started this exercise for plantar fasciitis which is complicated by osteophytes located in the joints on top of my feet. I am already getting relief from the spike ball exercise except that the toes still feel “seized up” as though strong elastic bands were cutting off my circulation and interfering with a normal walking gait. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!!! Btw, the back is loosening up too! Thank YOU!!!

  10. Hello ! I’m a male recreational golfer and I’ve been trying to figure out the relationship between my planter fasciitis and my hamstring issues. Thank you so much ! This exercise just released my hamstring for the first time in a month.

  11. Dear Sydney, I came across your site trying to find a way to resolve posterior impingement in one of my foot bones. The issue I have has been successfully treated by an Osteopath but it can take 3 months to see him. I have not attempted the exercises yet but I am eager to get home and try it. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time ti share this because it looks like it would do the trick for all kinds of foot issues.

  12. Thank you so much for this video. I have arthritis in my right foot and it’s been really bothering me. I have only done this sequence once and my foot feels so much better than it has in many months. Much gratitude for your generous sharing of information.

  13. I just came across this and wanted to inquire if you have any recommendations for helping the rehab of a torn tendon in the big toe. During one of my first Pilates classes I was introduced to the ‘high chair’ equipment and somehow during the exercises I tore the tendon under my big toe. Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Thank you.

  14. Hi Sydney,
    I believe this exercise may save me time & money on chiropractor visits; I am trying to re-align my gait and foot bones. I appreciate the video – thank you! Chris

  15. I love the idea of using this for group classes and feel like it could really teach people about release work. How would you recommend cleaning/sanitizing the balls?

    1. Hi Caitlin, This is my favorite way to start group classes! We spray the balls with the same sanitizing spray we use for the mats/equipment and also soak them all in warm soapy water.
      Thanks for your question!

  16. Oh my gosh, I just came across your web page and I was looking for relief for my feet. I’m so glad I did. Such wonderful information! Thank you!!!

  17. Do you think this helps with very tight hamstrings? Or could an issue with tight hamstrings originate in the feet?

    1. Hi Amy, This exercise, in my opinion, is extremely helpful for the hamstrings. The feet and shoes certainly influence the hamstrings. Time spent on your feet (and calves) is time well invested for hamstring and whole body well-being for sure. Thanks for your questions!

  18. Is this als safe during pregnancy? Because there is a point at the line of the heel that could trigger the uterus, right?

  19. I cant believe it! God did it hurt, but I just tried this and my whole trap released. My back popped and my shoulders dropped. I have full range of motion in my right shoulder for the first time in over a decade! I can touch my knuckles to the floor.
    Thank you!!!!!!

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