Tuesday 1st: 10am only
Preventions – Foot and Ankle
Over the next several weeks are we going to take a look at the body area by area and go over some simple prevention steps that can be implemented when needed. It only makes sense to start from the bottom up. For anyone who has ever suffered a foot or ankle injury you know firsthand how annoying this can be. Not only do this hurt but they essentially make it impossible to perform almost any physical activity. Of course there are some exercises you can perform without having to use your foot or ankle but this can be tedious and more work than it’s worth – this shows you why foot and ankle health should be taken very seriously and made a priority.
There are few common foot and ankle injuries that you should be aware of and also learn how to prevent. They are plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle sprains and muscle strains/sprains. Almost all of these conditions can be prevented if you take the time to stretch and strengthen the muscles and soft tissue around your foot and ankle.
Let’s start with my favorite 2 exercises for the foot/ankle – great for those sore feet or those prone to plantar fasciitis. This can be done every night or on just those days where your feet are especially sore. For the first exercise you need a frozen tomato paste can (the really small can) and a golf ball. You always use the tomato paste can first and last and the golf ball in between.
- Place the tomato paste can on the floor and while sitting place your foot on the tomato paste can. Roll the can from your heel to your toes for about 5 minutes (or until your foot becomes slightly numb). This will feel really good if your foot is sore or inflamed.
- Once your foot is slightly numb switched to the golf ball. Now roll the golf ball from your heel to just in front of your toes. You should be applying quite a bit of pressure and it should hurt but still feel good. Do this for a few minutes or 10-20 passes.
- Repeat number 1.
Next let’s go into the Alphabet Exercises. These exercises are great for those people with “weak” ankles who tend to sprain their ankles often but are also good for anyone participating in a sport where jumping, running or stability is important. These should be done at least 3 times a week (1 time through the alphabet each time) or daily if you feel the need.
- Start in a seated position (on either a table or bed) with your leg straight but your heel and foot hanging off the table/bed.
- With your toes pointed towards the ceiling begin “drawing” the alphabet (in upper case letters with your big toe) only moving your ankle. Be sure you go through your full range of motion. If you begin to feel a cramping sensation in your lower leg, stop the exercises and note which letter you got to. Next time try to make it further until you get to the end of the alphabet.
Finally a great tool/s that you can use as well is either the Foam Roller or “The Stick”. The box usually has both of these lying around but it would not hurt everyone to own one of each as well.
- Foam rolling your lower leg is very similar to foam rolling the rest of your body. Start with your calf (the backside of your lower leg) work around the side until you finally get in the front. It is a little tricky to apply the desired amount of pressure but can be done. Simply start with a straight leg (calf on the foam roller) and cross your other leg on top. Now raise your hips off the ground until you reach the desired pressure. Perform this a few times a day and especially on those days where your leg feels tight.
- Using “The Stick” is sometimes easier for the lower leg than foam rolling (I tend to use the stick more than the foam roller for lower leg tightness). “The Stick” looks like a really skinny rolling pin. You can use this to roll out your calf, outside of your lower back and the front of your leg. Find those sore spots and really work them out. A few minutes on each part of your leg will be enough.
Start to incorporate the above exercises/stretches into your weekly routine and you will start feel your lower leg become less tight and more mobile. These stretches are especially important on those days that you are feeling extra tight.