For all of you runners who give your best efforts every week at high school cross country meets, we salute you! For all the parents who spend their Saturdays cheering them on—kudos to you, too! Way to encourage your teen! Cross country runners can experience many of the same types of injuries as other sports athletes, so your support may extend to helping them rehab after treatment for a bad sprain, fracture, or Achilles tendon injury. We want to share some exercises for strengthening feet that will help put your teen back in action sooner.

Rehab often starts with isometric exercises—simply contracting and relaxing certain muscles without moving the joints. Pressing your foot onto the floor, or against resistance on either side of your ankle, for example, strengthens the muscles and prepares them for further movement.

Some basic foot strengthening exercises include the following:

  • Spreading toes: with feet flat on the floor, spread them as wide as they will go, and then return to normal position. Repeat 10 times, and do 3 sets, about 3 times a day.
  • Toe lifts: with feet flat, try to lift each toe separately, 3 times. Repeat with each toe, twice a day.
  • Toe curls: sit with feet flat, and a pencil under your toes. Curl them to grab and lift the pencil, hold a few seconds, and release. Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.
  • Forefoot press: with the back of your foot on a book and the front on a scale, see how much pressure you can exert with your forefoot. Press 10 times with each foot.
  • Toe and heel walking: walk barefoot, on tiptoe, for 15 seconds. Rest half a minute, and repeat 7 – 8 times. Then do the same thing walking on your heels with your toes raised. Do this twice a day.

All of these exercises will make your muscles, tendons and ligaments stronger and enable your foot to better support your weight once your injury is healed. That’s the clue to full recovery, and to preventing future injuries, too.

If you need treatment for a sports injury, call Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists in Ladera Ranch, CA, at (949) 364-9255 (WALK). We get real pleasure from helping our patients heal from injury and return to their favorite sport. Let us help you!