Maintaining the health of your feet and ankles is essential. When you engage in foot and ankle strengthening exercises, you make sure you keep them healthy and flexible. But, why is it necessary to keep both your feet and ankles healthy?
Your feet are how you get anywhere and everywhere. Every time you walk or run, you place pressure on them. Throughout a lifetime, that means your feet and ankles bear a lot of force and pressure. And, once foot problems start, it's difficult to rehabilitate them fully.
It's also crucial to realize that your feet and ankles aren't the only parts of your body that reap the benefits of leg exercises.
For example, many feet and ankle exercises deal with the calves. The calves extend down to the ankles, so it's only natural that these muscles help stabilize and strengthen the ankles and feet.
7 Effective Foot And Ankle Strengthening Exercises
Listed below are seven of the best foot and ankle strengthening exercises to try on your own. Each one works a different part of the feet and ankles.
Please note that you should always ask a doctor before beginning any strenuous training regimen. Although these aren't too difficult, it's up to you whether to begin these by yourself or consult with a doctor first.
Ankle Pump Up
The ankle is essential to mobility. While your feet are the body parts that hit the ground, your ankle is what gives you the force to do so. Keeping your ankle flexible and durable goes a long way in terms of maintaining your health.
Out of all the foot and ankle strengthening exercises mentioned below, this one is one of the best when it comes to keeping your ankle flexible.
The pump up consists of one step. Not only does this one step strengthen the muscles around the ankle, but it also increases the flexibility of the foot.
All you do is flex your foot up. Try to touch your shin with your toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Release the tension, complete 3 sets of 10, and be astounded by how much one little exercise can do for your body.
If you need ankle support while completing any of these exercises, ankle braces are a great way to stabilize your ankles while working out.
Bent Knee Wall Stretch
When engaging in foot and ankle strengthening exercises, you don't always focus all your energy on those two body parts. The muscles in your legs and knees also contribute to how well your feet and ankles feel. That's why the bent knee wall stretch is a key exercise to strengthen your feet and ankles.
The primary purpose of this exercise is to stretch the soleus muscle. It's the muscle on the inside of the calf, and it heavily contributes to the health of your ankle. By strengthening the calf, you provide more stability for the ankle.
To perform this exercise, stand against a wall and place your hands on it at shoulder level. Next, put one foot forward and place the other one-the one you intend to stretch-behind you. While keeping your heels on the ground, lean forward.
You should feel the soleus muscle stretching. Three sets of 10 is a perfect place to start for beginners.
One of the more interesting foot and ankle strengthening exercises, toe pickups focus on the part of the foot that doesn't get much attention-the toe.
You may not know it, but your toes are some of the most critical parts of your body. Ever stub your toe and try to walk around with it bandaged up? Not only is it difficult because of the pain but also because you can't put pressure on it. Without all your toes working properly, balance becomes a problem.
If you strengthen your toes, you improve the strength of your feet. But, how do you even perform a toe pickup?
First, gather 20 small objects. These objects can be anything from Hershey Kisses to jacks or even small stones.
Once you have your objects in a pile, pick them up one at a time with your toes. Move them to another pile until your old pile is gone. Repeat this process two more times, and you will have toes of steel in absolutely no time at all.
Improving the muscles in your feet dramatically enhances your stability and health. Since your feet are so important, it's crucial to strengthen them. Along with the ankle pump, the toe raise is a simple exercise that gives you fantastic results. But how does it get these results?
Toe raises strengthen both your toes and your calf muscles. To do a proper toe raise, start with balancing yourself against a wall. You may not need this, but do it if you're just starting these exercises.
Once you're balanced, stand on your tiptoes. It's important to keep stretching up on your tiptoes without pain. If you feel any pain, stop the exercise.
Hold the tiptoe position for 10 seconds. Lower your feet back to the ground, and you've completed one toe raise. Three sets of 10 is a great place to start. Eventually, you work your way up to performing these toe raises on only one leg at a time. With enough practice, you'll get there one day.
Also, if you want a surface that's guaranteed to be comfortable on your feet, think about buying a yoga mat.
Towel Calf Stretch
Most of the foot and ankle strengthening exercises you will do are simple and easy. This one is no different, as all you need is a place to sit and a towel.
Even though the name implies nothing about the ankles, the towel calf stretch bends your ankle back towards your shin. This upward stretching of the ankle is referred to as "ankle dorsiflexion." It helps build up your ankle muscles and increases the flexibility of them at the same time.
To perform the towel calf stretch, sit on the ground with your legs straight. Wrap a towel around one of your feet and slowly pull back on it. Eventually, you'll feel your calf muscle begin to stretch. Stretch as far as you're comfortable with.
Once you've reached your limit, hold for 10 seconds. Relax the foot and repeat for a total of 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
It's essential to keep in mind that you should only attempt to stretch one foot at a time. If you stretch both at once, the pressure of you pulling back may cause your feet to splay outward. This awkward motion leads to unnecessary ankle injuries, so be smart and only do one foot at a time.
Do you still think your toes aren't important? If you're still not convinced, then the toe splay will change your mind.
When performing these foot and ankle strengthening exercises, it's crucial to have a proper technique. Some of the activities require you to have a towel or lie on the floor. This one requires none of these. Besides sitting down, that's the only thing you need to perform this exercise.
As long as you're sitting straight up, this exercise works. Once you're sitting up, expand your toes as much as you can. They should separate a little bit. Hold for five seconds and then relax them. Repeat a total of 10 times. Easy and practical, the toe splay gets the job done when it comes to foot and ankle strengthening exercises.
Ever walk on the beach? It's hard, and your legs are tired after just a couple of minutes. That's because the sand acts as both a resistant surface and an unstable one. You can't gain a good amount of footing, and this leads to you working your ankle and foot muscles more to stabilize yourself.
It also strengthens both your leg muscles and thigh muscles as well.
An excellent exercise that gets you outdoors and doesn't cost anything, sandwalking is a great addition to your collection of foot and ankle strengthening exercises.
Take Care Of Your Feet And Ankles Starting Today
Today is the best day to start caring for your feet and ankles. Knowing the importance of them and how much they contribute to your life is vital in understanding which exercises to do. Your feet and ankles are the parts of the body that take you wherever you want to go.
Start small, but start today. Even if it's just one toe pickup or five ankle pumps, it makes a difference. The quicker you start, the faster the results come. You only get one pair of feet and ankles. Protect them. Keep them flexible and healthy. If you don't, you may come to regret it when you're older.
Do you do any types of foot and ankle exercises regularly? Tell us how they help you in the comments below.