Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries 

Achilles stretch, calf stretch, athlete, exercise

Maintaining joint flexibility and muscle strength throughout your entire body is important, but especially important in the foot and ankle region. Whether you are an avid runner, weekend warrior or mall walker, maintaining ankle, foot, and toe flexibility and strength can help reduce overuse injuries. Even if you work out regularly, most people do not include the foot and ankle in their workout routines, favoring only the major muscle groups of the upper lower extremities.

Limited range of motion of the ankle is often a result of tightening or contracture of the calf muscle and Achilles tendon. This can lead to Achilles tendonitis, overload of the tendons supporting the midfoot, or overload on the ball of the foot.  

Weakness of the muscles that power the foot and ankle may place the muscle at risk for an overuse injury from exercise, yard work or a long hike. Ankle muscle weakness may place you at a higher risk for a sprain or strain.

To help prevent a foot or ankle injury, add these simple exercises to your daily routine to improve joint flexibility, strength and balance:

  • Achilles stretch: lean against a wall or hang your heels off of a step to stretch the calf muscle.
  • Calf muscle raises: this exercise will help strengthen the calf muscle. 
  • Toe flexibility and strengthening: try to pick up a wash cloth, marbles or pencils off the floor using your toes.
  • One-legged standing exercises: when standing, lift up one leg and balance on the other leg. Work up to being able to stand for 5 minutes at a time on one leg without tipping to the side. Add difficulty by leaning over and picking up objects from the floor or dribbling a basketball while balancing on one leg.

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