Did you know each foot is made up of 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments? These structures help with support, balance, and mobility during all your daily activities, so it is important to keep them healthy.
Follow these simple foot and ankle exercises to stretch, strengthen, and even prevent pain and injuries to your feet:
To perform calf stretches, position yourself with two hands against a wall and start with the left foot forward towards the wall while the right is a few steps behind. The important thing to remember is to keep the right heel firmly planted on the ground. Keep the right leg straight and while bending the left knee, push your body towards the wall. You should feel a stretch at the back of your right calf. To isolate another calf muscle, follow the same instructions described above while bending the right knee slightly. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
Sit on a chair and have both feet planted on the ground. Then spread your toes apart and hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Marble Pick Up
Sit on a chair and place two bowls in front of your feet; one should contain at least 10 marbles while the other is empty. Using your toes, pick up a marble one by one and place it in the empty bowl. Repeat on the other foot. If you don’t have marbles, place your foot on top of a towel on the ground and scrunch the towel towards you using your toes. Repeat this 10 times on each foot.
For this exercise, you will need a towel or a resistance band. Sit on the ground and have both legs extended in front of you, feet together. Place the towel under your toes or the balls of both feet and pull slightly until you feel a stretch at your calves and at bottoms of your feet. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.
Four-Way Ankle Resistance Band Exercises
For these exercises, you will need a resistance band. Sit on the ground with the left leg laid flat and knee extended in front of you while the right knee is bent. Then create a loop at the end of the resistance band and place your left foot in that loop making sure the band wraps around the ball of your foot. Hold the non-looped end of the resistance band and pull towards your body creating some tension in the band. Then push your foot forward as far as you can as if you are pushing down on a gas pedal (toes facing away from the body) and then bring the foot back to starting position. When you bring the foot back, do this slowly and in a controlled motion.
Next, hold the non-looped end of the resistance band with your right hand and pull to create tension. Then move your left foot out so that the sole of your foot faces away from the right foot. Again, bring the foot back to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
Repeat the same process above; hold the non-looped end of the resistance band with your left hand and pull to create tension. Now move your left foot in the opposite direction so that the sole of the foot is facing your right foot. Again, bring the foot back to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
Finally, to do the next exercise, find a heavy chair, sofa, or table that you can tie the non-looped end of the resistance band to create tension. Instead of pushing down on a gas pedal, bring the foot back towards the body as far as you can and then bring the foot slowly back to starting position.
Repeat each step 10 times. Repeat this entire exercise on the right foot.
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