Simple Stretches for Active Feet
Ankles sprains, stress fractures, heel pain – these are just some of the many injuries your feet and ankles can endure as you are out there twirling across the stage or charging down the field. And the truth is these painful conditions can easily put you out of commission, bringing the fun of participation and the health benefits of exercise to a screeching halt.
Now, we do have some bad news:
It’s not always possible to avoid injury when being physically active – especially when participating in sports that require a lot of physical contact between players. If your activity of choice is football or basketball, then your chances of getting hurt are naturally quite high. But dancers are also at high risk, considering all the impact their feet endure as well.
In short, whenever you use your feet to be physically active, you may very well stumble upon a painful injury.
Fortunately, we also have some good news:
You can help protect your feet and ankles by properly preparing them before AND after being active. All you have to do is warm up your muscles and then stretch. (Of course, wearing appropriate footwear is also an important aspect of protecting your feet and ankles.)
But Does Stretching Actually Make a Difference?
It absolutely does.
And after a foot or ankle injury, a comprehensive stretching routine will also help you return to your daily activities and restore the strength and flexibility you had before getting injured. Stretching can also help avoid an injury from reoccurring during your healing process, and even after you have fully recovered.
Keep in mind, however, that stretching alone isn’t enough to treat and prevent injuries. In fact, whenever you experience one, you should immediately come to visit our office. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles to correctly diagnose your condition and provide the most beneficial treatment available to get you back on your feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
Now, let’s get to the point – here is what you need to know about stretching your feet and ankles.
Prepare for the Stretch
Yes – you do need to prepare your body for stretching, too.
Before any kind of physical activity, including stretching, your body needs to be warmed up with some light exercise. Walking, running in place, or doing jumping jacks for a few minutes will warm up your muscles.
Once your muscles are warm, they’re ready for some stretches. But there are some things you should still keep in mind:
- Don’t bounce when stretching. Bouncing in a stretch can cause damage.
- Take it slow. There’s no prize for finishing a stretching routine first.
- Stay fit year-round. It’s a good idea for you to keep in shape even during the off-season so that you are ready for competition when it starts up again.
- Find the appropriate gear to wear. Protective equipment that fits properly and is well-maintained and designed specifically for the activity being performed should help reduce injury.
- Respect an injury. If you already had a sprain or other injury, check with a podiatrist or sports trainer before you get back into action.
With all that being said (and done!), you can finally get to the main focus.
Some Simple Stretching Exercises
Below are some easy stretches you can try. You may choose to incorporate one, two or several of these in your warm-up routine. It’s up to you; just make sure you do stretch.
- Straight Knee Wall Stretch. Line yourself up squarely in front of a wall, press your hands against the wall for balance. Place one foot behind you and the other just in front. Keeping both heels flat on the floor, press your hips forward until you feel a solid stretch along the entire calf. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
Start with three sets of 10 exercises for each leg and work your way up to three sets of 30 exercises.
- Bent Knee Wall Stretch. Line yourself up squarely in front of a wall and press your hands against the wall for balance. Place one foot behind you and the other just in front. Keeping your knees slightly bent and both heels solidly on the floor, press your hips forward until you feel a stretch along the back of your calf. Hold for 30 seconds, maintaining the tension, and release.
Start with three sets of 10 exercises for each leg, working your way up to three sets of 30 exercises.
- Toe Pick Ups. Place a pile of 20 small objects on the floor (like jacks, hard candies, or tiny stones) and use your toes to pick them up and move them to another pile. Do three sets of this exercise three times per day.
- Toe Raises. Using a wall or counter for balance, rise up onto your tiptoes as far as you can go without pain. Hold the position for 10 seconds, maintaining the tension, and release.
Start with three sets of 10 exercises and work your way up to three sets of 30 exercises. As you get stronger, you can begin to do single leg toe raises, which places additional weight on each leg.
- Plantar Fascia Massage. This is an ideal stretch for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, a common chronic condition.
Sit comfortably in a chair and cross one leg over the opposite knee. With one hand, pull your toes back as far as is comfortable. There should be tension but no pain. With the other hand, massage the bottom of your foot immediately in front of the heel. Do this for 10 minutes three times per day.
Alternatively, you can roll your foot on a golf ball or something similar.
Need Help? Contact Our Office Today!
We hope that by performing these stretches regularly, you will be able to steer clear from foot and ankle injuries while you are active. However, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us today!
At Eugene Foot and Ankle Health Center, we can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and the treatment options that are best to eradicate your discomfort and get you back on your feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
Just give us a call at (541) 683-3351 or simply fill out our handy request form online to have one of our staff members reach out to you instead.
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