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At-Home Foot and Ankle Stretches (You Can Even Get Your Family Into!)

by | Apr 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown so many of our normal routines into disarray, but the truth is that it doesn’t always take something so wide-sweeping to affect our lives.

Changes in family, career, and circumstances can all cause you to spend more time at home than you used to, or less time moving throughout the day.

A more sedentary lifestyle can mean bad news for our feet and ankles over time. This rings especially true for those who have heel pain thanks to plantar fasciitis or complications that can interfere with circulation.

Staying in motion is good for feet and overall well-being, no matter the situation. But we also know that life doesn’t always allow us opportune times to lace up our shoes and go for a jog—especially if you find yourself working from home and caring for your children at the same time!

It’s good to have some deliberate foot and ankle stretches you can perform as part of your daily routine, without requiring you to change into workout gear or break too far from other responsibilities.

We have a few suggestions here that are quick, easy… and maybe even something the kids might find fun, too! You don’t need to be suffering from any current foot or ankle issues to benefit from these, after all.

Just a couple caveats, first:

  • We do recommend consulting with us or your trusted primary care physician before making any big changes to a workout routine. We can help you find the best exercises for your needs, as well as provide advice on how to best perform them safely. You can schedule a telemedicine appointment with us to easily talk with one of our expert doctors regarding any questions or concerns you may have—for this or any other foot and ankle matters!
  • Never push yourself further than you can currently extend. If you can currently manage only part of a motion, that is perfectly fine. Do what you can within your capabilities to help avoid injury.

If you ever have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us. With that said, let’s go!

Towel Stretch

This can be performed while sitting on the floor or a bed. You can also use a belt or resistance band instead of a towel.

  • Sit with both legs out in front of you. Loop the towel around the ball of one foot (do not wrap entirely around the foot) and grasp an end of the towel in each hand.
  • While keeping your legs straight, gently pull the towel toward you, flexing the upper part of your foot back. Do not yank, but keep steady control with your arm muscles.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. Perform three repetitions for each foot.

Marble Pickup

This is a great, simple exercise for toe strength and flexibility – and definitely has a game-like quality as well. You will need marbles, or other small objects that are easy and reasonable to pick up with your feet. The more, the merrier!

  • Sit upright in a chair, both feet flat on the floor.
  • Spread the marbles/objects out in front of you, within reach of your legs, as well as a small bowl.
  • One at a time, pick up a marble with your toes and deposit it in the bowl. Pick up all the marbles, then repeat with your other foot.

You might be surprised how much effort this can take. You may even need some practice.

Ankle Alphabet

Greater ankle strength, coordination, and flexibility all add up to greater stability and some extra protection against sprains. And if you want to go through the alphabet with your kids, why not get a little stretching in at the same time?

  • While sitting, raise one foot off the ground, toes pointed outward.
  • As if your big toe is a pen, trace the alphabet in the air. Focus more on moving with your ankle than repositioning your entire leg.
  • Repeat up to three times with each foot.

Achilles Stretch

Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Keeping both the muscle and tendon stretched and conditioned can help keep excess stress from straining the heel.

  • Stand facing the wall, with arms stretched out and palms pressed against it.
  • Place your left foot back with knee straight.
  • Slowly bend the knee on your other leg forward. Keep both heels flat on the floor if you can, but do not worry about lifting them if you have to.
  • Lean forward, using your hips, until you feel a stretch in your lower legs (your Achilles and calf muscle).
  • Hold for about 30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat two more times.

Heel Lifting

Simple, yet satisfying—and quite beneficial for your ankles and calves, as well!

  • While standing, lift your heels as high as you can, then slowly let them drop. Do not be afraid to hold onto the back of a chair or wall for support, if needed.
  • For added challenge, try this on one foot, or while standing on a more unstable surface, like a pillow (again, use support if needed!).

Foot and Ankle Help at Home

Are you looking for a more personalized routine, based on your specific foot and ankle needs, or simply need help for a problem?

Even when going out is a challenge, it never hurts to contact us. We may be able to provide you advice over the phone, or through other means that have your best interests in mind. Simply give our Ladera Ranch office a call at (949) 364-9255 (WALK) or fill out our online contact form to reach out electronically.