Whether you’ve dedicated yourself to an evening walk, or you’re training for a marathon, strong ankles and feet are essential for both walkers and runners. Performing the right stretches and strengthening exercises can prevent injuries and make your exercise routine more effective. Perform these brief exercises and stretches every day to protect yourself and increase your endurance.
Downward dog. Assume the downward dog yoga position, while pushing your heels down toward the floor. Stretch your calves this way before and after each walk (or run).
Massage your arches. The arches of your feet act as shock absorbers, especially if you jog or run. Relieve their strain by rolling a tennis ball up and down the bottom of each foot, for two to three minutes each.
Take care of your heels. If you’re prone to heel pain, you need to stretch your plantar fascia (or just go ahead and prevent this problem from starting). Cross your right foot over your left leg, to make a shape like a 4. Now, using your right hand, grab the toes of your right foot and pull them toward your shin. With your left hand, rub the arch of your foot. Now reverse the action to stretch your left foot.
Spread and flex. Even the most flexible running shoe is keeps our toes stiff and confined. Relax these muscles by flexing your feet upward, and spreading your toes as wide as possible. Stretch this way a few times before putting on your running shoes, and again when you take them off.
Toe curls. This is another great move for your toes. Lay a towel on the floor in front of you, and use your toes to scrunch it toward you. Do this ten times, then reverse and push it away from you for ten reps.
Calf raises. Stand on a low step, so that your heels can drop below level. Now rise up on your toes, then drop your heels back down, and repeat. If you haven’t done calf raises before, start off with sets of 15 or 20. More experienced runners often perform 100 calf raises (or even more) daily. This exercise stretches your muscles, plus strengthens them to provide support.
As always, give us a call if you have questions about your exercise routine. We can examine you to be sure your plans are safe, and help you resolve any questionable aches and pains.