Simple Ankle Stretches To Do At Home

One of the most common issues that prevent people from participating in regular physical activity is weak, stiff or painful ankles. Luckily, there are some simple stretches you can do at home to help ensure that your ankles remain flexible to avoid injury.

flexion

Active Flexion: Flex your foot as high as it will go, hold for a few seconds, then point your toes as far as they will go and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 2 sets of twenty reps on each foot every day to keep ankles mobile. If your ankles are sore or swollen, you can do this gentle stretch with your ankles iced and elevated if necessary.

side-to-side

Side To Side: Flex your foot and begin to rotate your ankle side to side. Begin with rotating your foot so the sole first faces outward, then inward. Another option for this exercise is to move your ankles gently in a circular motion.

wall-stretch

The Wall Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

toe-wall-stretch

Toe To Wall Stretch: To begin this stretch, the heel should be on the ground and the toes on the wall. Place the opposite foot behind you. Keep the legs straight and move the entire body forward. Do not move your upper body forward and stick your backside out. You should feel a very strong stretch in the back of the calf and some stretch in the arch. To increase the stretch, move your heel closer to the wall and increase the angle of your foot. To decrease the stretch, move your heel back and lower your toes. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Are Tight Calves Causing Your Foot Pain?

One of the things I am learning in my journey to my best health possible is that what you think may be causing you symptoms (i.e. foot pain) may stem from a totally different area of the body. Often, when we experience heel and/or foot pain, it is stemming from tightness of our calf muscles, a condition called Gastrocnemius Equinus (GE).

calves

The gastrocnemius muscle is a big calf muscle. Any exercise in which you raise your heels, putting weight on the ball of your foot, makes the muscle bigger and stronger and gives the leg a nicely toned and defined muscle (which is why many women love how their legs look when wearing high heels). The top of the muscle is attached to your femur, and the bottom of the muscle forms part of the Achilles tendon which attaches on the bone at the back of your foot.  The Achilles tendon is composed of two parts: the soleus, which is found only deep and behind the calf muscle and is almost never a problem, and the more superficial and bigger gastrocnemius muscle which is frequently a cause of pain and symptoms.

When you walk the gastrocnemius muscle contracts and lifts your heel off the ground which moves you forward. For many of us, this muscle is short or tight which can lead to problems including flat feet, bunions, metatarsalgia, hammertoes, sesamoiditis, plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and Achilles tendon inflammation, tendinitis, and even Achilles tendon rupture.

wall-stretch

The most effective way to treat GE is with a regular stretching routine, particularly the wall stretch. Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Quick & Easy Stretches For Heel Pain

There are two different categories of heel pain. The first is caused by over-use repetitive stress which refers to a soreness resulting from too much impact on a specific area of the foot. This condition, often referred to as “heel pain syndrome,” can be caused by shoes with heels that are too low, a thinned out fat pad in the heel area, or from a sudden increase in activity. Plantar fasciitis, a very common diagnosis of heel pain, is usually caused from a biomechancial problem, such as over-pronation (flat feet). The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot, from the heel through the midfoot and into the forefoot. Over-pronation can cause the plantar fascia to be excessively stretched and inflamed, resulting in pain in the heel and arch areas of the foot. Often the pain will be most intense first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of rest. The pain will gradually subside as the day progresses.

There are a few quick and easy stretches you can do at home to help prevent and treat heel pain.

staircase-stretch

Stair Case Stretch: Stand on a step with your feet together. The toes and balls of your feet should be on the step but your heels should overhang the step. Be sure you are supporting yourself with one hand on a railing or wall. Slowly lift up and down on your toes ten times. Repeat three sets of ten lifts. This exercise helps to strengthen your feet and heels, preventing and healing Plantar Fasciitis.

wall-stretch

The Wall Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

toe-wall-stretch

Toe To Wall Stretch: To begin this stretch, the heel should be on the ground and the toes on the wall. Place the opposite foot behind you. Keep the legs straight and move the entire body forward. Do not move your upper body forward and stick your backside out. You should feel a very strong stretch in the back of the calf and some stretch in the arch. To increase the stretch, move your heel closer to the wall and increase the angle of your foot. To decrease the stretch, move your heel back and lower your toes. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

To properly treat heel pain, you must absorb shock, provide cushioning and elevate the heel to transfer pressure. This can be accomplished with a heel cup, visco heel cradle, or an orthotic designed with materials that will absorb shock and shear forces. When the condition is pronation related (usually plantar fasciitis), an orthotic with medial posting and good arch support will control the pronation and prevent the inflammation of the plantar fascia. Footwear selection is also an important criteria when treating heel pain. Shoes with a firm heel counter, good arch support, and appropriate heel height are the ideal choice.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Loosen Tight Hamstrings By Rolling Your Feet

I know, it sounds kind of weird but I promise it works! You can actually loosen your tight hamstrings by rolling your feet on a tennis ball. All of the muscles in our bodies are connected. The tissue in our feet is often very tight from overuse, and that tightness travels upward into our legs. If you commit to doing this exercise daily, you should see a change in your flexibility within a week.

Before you begin rolling, I recommend testing your flexibility with a forward bend. This will give you a good bench mark to measure against to see if the rolling is helping. Come into a standing forward bend with your feet hip distance apart. Press down into your feet, lift your front thighs and straighten your legs. Roll your front upper thighs in, and widen across your hamstrings.
You can use yoga bricks for extra support if your hands aren’t able to reach the floor. Make a note of how much height you need to place your palms flat, then roll up to standing position.

Now, stand close to a wall on a yoga mat or carpet, with one hand against the wall for added balance. Place a tennis ball under one foot and start to roll the sole of your foot over the tennis ball. Play around with the amount of pressure you are using. It should be intense, but pleasant. If it is painful in any way, you are applying too much pressure.

Bend your toes over the tennis ball and massage the backs of your toes. Then work your way down the sole of your foot, all the way back to your heel. Roll along the inner and outer arches. Keep rolling for at least two minutes on each foot. Once you’ve rolled both feet, try doing another forward bend and see if your flexibility has improved at all.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.