Foot and Ankle Stretches
When thinking of stretching, many people imagine a buff athlete flexing and cracking their neck before engaging in some big feat of athleticism. Stretching isn’t just for the pros, however. Foot and ankle stretches can reap benefits when worked into a regular routine, no matter whether you plan to run a marathon or make a quick run to the store.
Stretching: Proactive vs. Reactive
Stretches for feet and ankles are often recommended as part of a treatment or recovery process, and for good reason. Stretching can be added as part of a program to recondition and re-strengthen an area that has needed to remain immobile following an injury or surgery, for example. Sometimes, for those who suffer from heel pain due to plantar fasciitis or an Achilles tendon issue, stretching can help condition connecting muscles and reduce stress on the pained area.
The positive effects of stretching don’t just apply when one is in pain, however. Stretching while everything is normal can help prevent problems from happening. Properly conditioned feet and ankles can take on more stress, maintain flexibility, and slow the degenerative effects of aging on your joints.
Given the choice, why not take a preventative approach?
Know Your Moves
Foot and ankle stretches don’t require a gym membership or a workout ensemble. Most can be performed in your own comfortable home. Here are just a few examples.
Toe Pickups – Place about 10 small objects on the floor. Marbles are the classic, but anything graspable and non-pointy will do. While sitting, use your toes to pick each item up and individually place them into a cup. Perform twice with each foot. You can even race for a fastest time against yourself or family (we are not responsible for neighbors walking in on you).
Toe Pullback – Sit with your legs extended out in front. Loop an exercise band (you could also use a towel) around the top part of one foot and gently pull your toes toward you, keeping the leg straight. Go as far as comfortable, then slowly return your foot to the original position. Two sets of 20 on each leg is the recommended rep.
Heel Slides – A good stretch for the ankle. Sit in a chair with toes pointing forward and heels on the floor. Slide one heel backward, keeping the foot flat against the floor at all times. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat 20-25 times. If you need to reduce friction against the floor, a plastic bag placed under the foot might help.
Stretch Well, Stretch Right
The proper form for foot and ankle stretches is hard to describe in text, of course. To get the most benefit from a routine, it helps to know that what you are doing is correct and are the best kinds of exercises for your specific lifestyle and health needs.
Dr. Timothy Barry and the staff at Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper can recommend the best stretches and conditioning routines to keep your feet and ankles healthy at any age or walk in life. Whether you want to get a foot up on your strength or have a condition that needs addressing, we are always happy to help. Call us at (812) 481-7200 to schedule an appointment at our office behind Memorial Hospital.