Feet are vital to walking and running. There are only 26 small bones in your feet that carry the weight of your entire body. Foot and ankle training is a topic that is relatively neglected and overlooked. However, proper activation and function of these areas is not only vital for maximizing performance and strength but is also critical for tissue health and injury prevention. Ignoring your foot muscles can lead to weakness and lack of flexibility, which may result in injuries or pains. It’s important to keep your feet and ankles strong to provide you with better balance, flexibility, circulation and to avoid injuries. A focus workout of stretching exercises for the feet and strength, balancing and plyometric exercises for the ankles will do wonders for accomplishing this.
- Towel stretch
The purpose of the towel stretch is to stretch the calf muscle on the back of the leg and strengthen the ankle. This exercise is important if you have suffered damage to the calf muscle or ankle.
(a)Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.
(b)Hold both ends of the towel and loop it around one foot.
(c)Keep your leg straight and gently pull the towel toward you.
(d)Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 3 seconds, and then repeat. Do this 10 times for each leg. This exercise can be carried out daily.
- Heel Raises
(a)Stand with your back straight, tight abs and feet hip-width apart.
(b)Raise both of your heels off the floor high enough that you’re standing on the balls of your feet; hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower your heels back down to the floor.
(c)Perform this exercise 10 times.
3. Ankle Extension Stretch
(a)Stand about 4 feet in front of the block.
(b)Place the top of your foot down on the block so the top of your toes are supported.
(c)Bend your knee to put pressure on that foot to feel the stretch along the front of your ankle.
- Great Toe Lift
The muscle group that lifts your big toes is one of the strongest muscles in the foot and restoring strength to the group can assist in restoring strength and stability of the ankle.
(a) Stand with feet about hip width apart.
(b) Keeping all the other toes on the ground, lift just your big toes off the floor, then lower. Repeat 1-3 times.
- Calf drops
It helps strengthens the calf muscles and tendons near the heel.
(a)Stand on a step with your forefeet on the edge.
(b)Push up into a calf raise. Lift one leg and drop the heel of your other leg, taking up to 10 seconds to lower it.
(c)Return to the start; repeat 10 times on each foot. Do three times a week.