Do you have foot pain under the arch or heel pain again? Then help is on its way with these 8 foot and ankle stretching exercises to prevent foot pain as recommended by our experienced Podiatrists. If you experience foot pain or ankle stiffness then making time each day to stretch and look after your foot health will help a lot. Stretching regularly will improve your flexibility, strength, range of motion and can ease the severity and frequency of your foot pain, especially as you age.
If you have a recent or pre-existing injury then be sure to consult your doctor on what stretches you can attempt and follow their instructions.
Before you attempt any stretching exercises, you should always warm up the body parts that are intended to be stretched. A simple low impact activity like a 5 to 10 min walk around the neighbourhood should be sufficient for most people.
Remember everyone has different biomechanics and range of movements so only stretch as far as you can comfortably and without feeling pain. If you experience any pain during any of the stretches then you should cease that particular stretch and consult your podiatrist or doctor as you may have some underlying weakness or injury that needs to be strengthened or treated.
Podiatrist Approved Foot & Ankle Stretches to Prevent Foot Pain
1. STANDING CALF STRETCH
Standing calf stretches can be done against a wall while washing the dishes. Place the forefoot against the surface and only flex your ankle not the toes. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times a day.
2. STRENGTHENING CALF MUSCLES
Strengthening calf muscles can be done standing anywhere while you are waiting. Hold on to a bench e.g. in the kitchen or bathroom and slow raise both your heels off the floor while maintaining your balance. Hold the raised position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times a day.
To make it harder, try raising one heel complete off the ground first then while balancing, raise your other heel to feel a deep stretch. This will strengthen the gastrocnemius (outer calf muscle) and soleus complex (deeper calf muscle) and help improve circulation around the calf area. A lot of the pain people experience deep calf pain which in the soleous complex.
3. PLANTAR FASCIA LIGAMENTS STRETCH
Plantar fascia ligaments stretches can greatly help alleviate the severity and frequency of plantar fascia foot pain. The stretch can be done by bending your toes against wall e.g. when waiting in the kitchen or while brushing your teeth.
Flex your toes only against wall. The rest of the foot should be touching the floor and hold the foot as close to the wall as possible. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times a day.
4. PLANTAR FASCIA LIGAMENT STRETCH/MASSAGE
Plantar Fascia Ligament Stretch/Massage is an easy stretch/massage can be done using a small, firm massage ball or golf ball, if you have a smaller foot or a hockey ball for a larger foot. The smaller the ball the more targeted the massage will be. If your pain is more localized then it’s best to use a smaller ball like a golf ball.
Simply roll your foot over the ball and alternate between both feet. This is an easy one that can be done when you are working from your desk.
5. ANKLE ROLLS
Ankle rolls are great for improving your range of motion and activating the muscles around arteries and veins to keep the blood circulation moving. Turn your ankles and point your toes. Roll your ankle in a clockwise direction 10 times then alternate the direction in an anti-clockwise direction 10 times.
Flex your ankle up and down holding for 5 seconds at the end of each movement.
6. EXTENSOR LIGAMENTS STRETCH
Extensor ligaments stretch allows the top of the foot, which is often neglected for bottom of the foot stretches. This stretch can be done standing anywhere. To do this stretch correctly you should be able to feel a deep stretch across the top of all your toes and front part of your foot. Simply flex your toes against the floor and hold each stretch for 20 seconds for each foot and repeat 3 times a day.
7. TOE SPLAY
Toe splay is an exercise to stretch and strengthen the toes and improve balance in the forefoot. This can be done sitting down at your desk. Spread your toes as far apart as possible and hold for 10 seconds, repeat on both feet 5 times a day.
8. TOE CURL
Toe curl is an exercise to strengthen the plantar ligaments and tendons of the forefoot and arch. This exercise can be done at your desk while sitting in a chair. Place a small towel on the floor. Place the toes of one foot on the towel. Try to grasp and pick up the towel using the underside of the toes. Once secure hold the stretch for 5 seconds and repeat the exercise 5 times, before switching to the other foot.