Strengthen Your Feet & Ankles

Photo Credit: אנדר-ויק CC-BY-SA-3.0 2009

Everyone, especially walkers, joggers and runners need strong feet and ankles to avoid injury, soreness and pain. Strong ankles and feet can  help you avoid injury from a sprain. Ankle sprains are a common injury, even among people who do not run or jog. Untreated ankles sprains can cause long-term joint problems, such as stiffness or weakness. See a doctor right away if you sprained your ankle and notice any swelling, bruising or other discoloration of the foot and ankle, coldness, numbness or tingling in the foot and toes. Begin exercising to rehabilitate your sprain only under the advice of a doctor and supervision of a rehabilitation fitness expert. There are a few exercises you can do to strengthen your ankles and help prevent injury. Try these exercises in your bare feet. 

Stand on one foot and hold your arms out from the shoulders parallel to the floor. Keep your eyes open and look straight ahead. Hold the position for 60 seconds, if possible. Try to avoid rocking on your foot by keeping the sole of your foot on the floor. Lower your leg and repeat with the other side. This exercise will not only strengthen your foot and ankle, it is a great balance exercise too.

Stand on the edge of a stair with your toes and allow the heels of your feet to drop an inch or two inches below the stair. Hold the wall or a hand-rail for support and balance if needed. Hold this exercise for up to 60 seconds. Lift your heels and stand on the edge of the stairs using your toes. Hold this position for up to one minute. Next, lower your heels as far down as you can and hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch for 10 repetitions.

Use a table or a stable chair for balance and stand on your toes. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then lower your feet back to the floor. Repeat this exercise for 20 repetitions. When your feet and ankles become stronger, increase the number of repetitions or perform the toe stand exercise using one foot at a time. 
Increase your ankle range of motion by stretching and rotating your foot. Sit on a chair and raise one leg about  2 to 3 inches off the floor. Point your toes and rotate your ankle clockwise 5 times and then counter-clockwise 5 times. Repeat with the other foot. Try to move only your ankle and not your leg. Next, drop a towel or a sock on the floor and use your toes to pick it up. Drop it and pick it up again 2 more times. Repeat the exercise 3 times with each foot. Increase the number of repetitions as it becomes easier for you to pick up the towel or sock. 

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