Whether recovering from an injury or looking to prevent a new one, stretches for the foot and ankle can help. Exercise conditioning regimens can help you get back to normal activities more quickly. They can also help you live a more active lifestyle and improve your overall health. Before starting any exercise regimens, make sure to consult with your doctor. Not every form of exercise is right for every individual and should be decided based on health conditions, goals, and current athletic ability.
What is Exercise Conditioning?
The goals of conditioning regimens are to build up muscular strength, flexibility, and focus on specific muscle groups. Programs generally last between four and six weeks unless your doctor suggests a different length. Exercises can then be continued for three to five days a week, depending on your doctor’s recommendations. This can help keep your ankles and feet strong with a full range of motion.
Warm Up Before Stretching and Exercising
Before you do any exercises or stretches, you should give yourself between five and 10 minutes to warm up. Use a low impact activity like going for a quick walk or riding an exercise bike. When you finish warming up, you can begin with stretching exercises before moving on to strength conditioning. You should not feel any pain during these exercises, so, if you do, stop immediately and talk to your doctor.
Stretches For Your Heels, Calves, and Feet
Heel Cord Stretches
Heel cord stretches should be done in two sets of 10 between six and seven days each week. When performing this stretch, you should feel the tension in your heel and calf. Turn to face a wall, putting your healthier leg forward bent slightly at the knee. Keep your injured leg straight behind you, and your heel flat with your toes slightly pointed inward. Keep your heels flat while pressing your hips forward toward the wall. Maintain this for about 30 seconds, and then relax for 30 seconds before repeating. Make sure not to arch your back while stretching.
Heel cord stretches can also be performed with your knees bent. In this case, you will feel stretching in your heel, as well as the sides of your ankle and your calves. Perform the heel stretch as before, except keep your injured leg bent behind you instead of straight. Try to keep your hips centered above both feet, as this makes the movement more natural and effective. Both versions of the heel stretch can be beneficial. Just be careful to follow your doctor’s advice and stop if you feel any pain.
Towel stretches should be done in two sets of 10 six or seven days a week. These stretches create a tense feeling in your heel and calf. The only thing you need to perform this exercise is a hand towel. Sit down on the floor, putting your legs in front of you. Loop the towel around the ball of your injured foot. Then hold both ends of the towel and pull them toward you while keeping your leg straight. Maintain this pose for 30 seconds, and then relax your muscle for 30 seconds. Do this three times. Make sure to keep your legs straight and sit as tall as you can.
Golf Ball Rolls
Golf ball rolls are easy to perform and only need to be done once daily. These stretches create tension along the bottom of the foot. All you need to do this exercise is a single golf ball. Sit on a sturdy chair and plant both your feet flat on the floor. Then roll the golf ball under the arch of your injured foot. Do this for about two minutes while sitting up straight and keeping your foot close to the chair.
Remember, conditioning and stretching exercises can help with both injury recovery and prevention. They can also help you live a more active lifestyle and improve your overall health. However, sometimes you need the professionals – and that’s where we come in! Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, offers comprehensive orthopaedic care for adults and children. Plus, we have physical therapists on staff and in-house to help create customized plans of care for all our patients. For an appointment, please call 402-489-4700.