02 Jul Feet and ankles – how strong is your foundation?
52 bones, 66 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Strong and flexible feet and ankles are essential for balance and stability, yet how little attention we tend to pay to them.
Simple changes can make a big difference, starting with foot ware. Shoes with heels less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) high are ideal. Better yet, walk around barefoot as often as you can. For women who like to wear high heels, consider saving them for special occasions.
I think it’s much easier to incorporate exercises into everyday activities, but if setting time aside works better for you, go for it.
Flexibility exercises when sitting around
Sit up straight on a firm chair and straighten a leg in front of you.
1) With your big toe leading, write the letters of the alphabet. Do the same with the other foot.
2) Point your feet down until you feel a comfortable stretch; hold this for half a minute, then relax for half a minute. Pull your toes and feet up and back until you feel a comfortable stretch; hold this for half a minute, then relax for half a minute. Repeat 3 more times. Use stretchy exercise bands on your feet if you want to add resistance to these exercises.
Strengthening exercises when sitting around
Sit up straight on a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
1) Pick up small items such as marbles or a pencil with your toes.
2) Put a small towel on the floor and scrunch it up by pulling back with your toes.
Strengthening exercises when standing around
Stand with feet hip width apart.
1) Hold the back of a chair. Rise up on tiptoes as high as you comfortably can, then lower. Repeat 10 times.
2) If secure standing on tiptoes with two feet, try standing on your tiptoes using one foot at a time. Be sure to hold the back of a chair.
This exercise information is provided only as an education service.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons provides guidance and illustrates various foot and ankle exercises for people with foot problems at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/PDFs/Rehab_Foot_and_Ankle_4.pdf