Toughening your feet for ruck marching comes from regular rucking and increasing ruck march distances. Conditioning your feet and performing exercises for the arch of your foot, ankle, and calf will help toughen your feet for ruck marching.
It goes without saying that practice makes perfect, this also goes for rucking. Body builders build up calluses under their fingers and on the top of their palms because of their constant handling of weights and dumbells.
The more you ruck, the more you expose your feet to tough rucking conditions. Whether that be from calluses or because you’ve identified the hot spots on your feet that are prone to blisters, the more you ruck the more you and your feet know.
With that said though, there are exercises that you can do on top of regular ruck marching to help condition your feet to the tough times and supplement your ruck marching performance.
These conditioning exercises help you last longer during a ruck march which results in longer ruck marches and helps you toughen your feet for ruck marching.
1- Condition Your Foot Arch
In the military, and during ruck marches, it is best practice to attend to your feet one foot at a time.
Soldiers in the military remove only one boot at a time to change their socks, medicate blisters and so on.
In order to condition your feet we highly recommend the golf ball method (source):
Golf Ball Roll
The Golf Ball Roll method works on your Plantar Fascia Ligament which essentially runs from your heel to the top of your foot. It usually tires out during a foot march which causes tightness in this area and leads to the arch of the foot dropping (source).
Other common causes include:
- strecth fractures
- being overweight
Here’s how to relive foot arch pain and condition it through the golf ball roll method (source).
- Sit on a chair with both feet planted on the floor.
- Roll a golf ball under the arch of your affected foot for 2 minutes.
All you’ll need is a golf ball which can easily fit in your rucksack
2- Condition & Stretch Your Ankle
Conditioning your ankle is key when rucking. Especially if you’re rucking uphill, down hill, or on unstable terrain. This adds pressure to your ankle the entire time during a ruck.
Implementing the “Ankle Range of Motion” stretch will help elevate some of the pressure.
Here’s how to do it (source):
1- Sit down so that your feet do not touch the floor.
2- Use your foot to write each letter of the alphabet in the air. Lead with your big toe.
Here are some similar exercises and stretches from Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation:
3- Condition Your Calfs
Performing the classic calf raised will strengthen your calfs which play a big role in rucking. Especially if you’re rucking on different terrains such as sand or uphill.
- Stand behind a chair with your weight evenly distributed over both feet.
- Lift one foot off the floor
- Raise the heel of your foot as high as you can, then lower it
- Repeat 10 times (source)
Here’s a visual demonstration by Physical Therapists Bob & Brad.
General Foot Care Best Practices to Toughen Your Feet For Rucking
Adhering to a foot care regimen will help you take care of your feet and help you ruck march for longer and toughen your feet in the long run.
Here’s what we recommend to take care of your feet for a Ruck March:
- Trim your toe nails
- Keep feet clean
- Use foot powder to prevent blisters
- Wear merino wool socks made for rucking
- Keep your feet and boot dry
- Wash your feet regularly
- Bring a boot insoles that you’re used to wearing
Preventing blisters from ruck marching is key to longevity, check out our full guide on how to prevent ruck march blisters.
Learn more about how much weight to carry when rucking and ruck marching to prevent rucking injuries and help you ruck march for longer.
These exercises are to be done before, during or after a ruck march. Learn more about what you should do before and after rucking.