If you're an active individual, then the last thing you want is to deal with ankle or foot injuries that prevent you from keeping up your lifestyle. Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis are among some of the most common issues that runners experience - not to mention the strain that comes with shin splints and calf injuries.
While looking after your calves can sometimes be as simple as investing in a couple of calf compression sleeves to enhance circulation and improve support during running periods, strengthening your feet is a little more complicated. Fortunately, we've put together a collection of motions that should help you to prevent foot injuries with exercise.
1. Calf Drops
Designed to help strengthen the muscles near the heel - including the Achilles tendon, and the calf muscles too, calf drops are a great way to prevent foot injuries with exercise. To get started, stand on a step with the front of your feet at the edge. Push your body upwards with both feet into a calf raise, and move one leg away from the step while lowering the other so that your heel drops downwards. Take a few seconds to keep yourself steady, then return to the standing position and repeat the motion ten times for each foot.
2. Toe Spread
This foot exercise focuses more on the smaller muscles in the toes that help to balance your feet and open you up to a wider range of motion. To get started, sit down and place a thick rubber band around your toes. With the pressure of the band holding them together, try to spread your toes apart as far as possible, and hold the position for five seconds.
3. Calf Stretch
Start by facing a wall with your heels down, and slowly rotate your knee from the twelve o'clock position into the 1 o'clock position. Lean forwards until you can feel a stretching sensation in the topmost part of your calf, and hold the position for around thirty seconds. If you want to target your lower calf as well, bring your foot inwards around six inches, bend your knees, and repeat the stretch. Do these after a run for maximum results.
4. Seated Arch Stretch
Finally, another simple way to prevent foot injuries with exercise is through a seated arch stretch - designed to ease pain in the arches of your feet and increase flexibility. Sit down and grab the toes on your left foot, pulling them gently back towards you and stretching out the plantar fascia. Hold the position for a minimum of around ten seconds, and then relax. You should repeat this motion around ten times on each foot.
Keep Your Feet in Shape
The helpful ways to prevent foot injuries with exercise don't stop at full exercise routines - you can also fit a few simple and quick motions into your day to help enhance mobility and keep your muscles and joints pain-free. For example, try:
- Writing the alphabet with your toes when sitting down.
- Tapping your feet against the floor
- Picking up marbles or small objects using your toes
- Walking on your toes, and your heels.