8. Ankle Stretch, Balance Challenge and Band Resistance
When you run or jump, the ankle and surrounding muscles are put under stress. If the ankles are strong, they can withstand greater stress. Strengthening the ankles can prevent injury. Tight and restricted ankles cause the body to compensate, resulting in muscle pain. The simplest exercise you can do to work on your ankles is to sit down, raise one leg and slowly rotate your foot in a circular motion. Repeat this 10 times circling each foot inwards and then outwards.
To work on weak ankle, you can use a towel. Tie the towel in a loop around a solid piece of furniture. Place your one leg under the other and bend slightly at the knee. Use the leg on top and hook the top of the foot into the towel loop. Make sure it’s on the ball of the foot, not just the toes. Slowly pull on the towel loop and bend your foot towards your head. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
Standing balance: Ankles are injured more often when people do not have good posture and balance. Balancing on one leg helps to strengthen the muscles of the ankle and the calf. Try to balance on one leg for as long as possible, working up to 60 seconds on each leg. Do this once a day.
Challenge your balance: When you are able to balance without difficulty, you can make things more challenging. Tie a resistance band (you can buy one at any medical store) around an unmoving surface and slip the ball of one foot into the loop. Balance on your free leg and try to move the other leg forward and backward a few inches against the band’s resistance. This movement makes it more challenging for you to balance. Repeat 10 times and then move to the other side.
9. Calf Stretch, Toe Stretch and Standing Heel Drop
If you’re active, you put pressure on your Achilles tendon, and you need to take care of it. It can usually withstand quite a bit of running and jumping, but overuse or not warming up properly can cause it to tear or rupture. You can also end up with tendonitis which is when the tendon becomes swollen or inflamed. There are a number of simple exercises that can be done to stretch the tendon.
Calf Stretch: Put your hands on a wall and keep one leg straight with the heel to the ground. Put the other leg with a bent knee in front of the straight leg. Push your hips forward toward the wall. Stretch your calf until you feel a strong pull without pain. Don’t let your heels come off the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 20 times on each foot in a slow, controlled way.
Toe Stretch: Sit on a chair. Stretch your toes upwards as high as you can without feeling any pain. Lower them slowly. Repeat 20 times. You can make it a little harder by pressing down on your thighs.
Standing Heel Drop: Stand at the edge of a stair and put the front part of one foot on the stair. Position it so that your heel can move up and down. Hold on to something to keep your balance. Slowly lift your heel and then lower it to the lowest point possible. Do this 20 times in a slow, controlled way. Repeat with the other foot.
10. Point and Flex, Towel Foot Flex and Foot Massage
Just like any other part of your body, your heels can become painful. People who have flat feet often experience something called plantar fasciitis. As the plantar fascia stretches, tension is created at the point where it meets the heel. Damage to the plantar fascia can cause inflammation and pain. It tightens up during the night, and with your first step in the morning, you experience pain.
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Point and flex your toes together to get your muscles warmed up. Slowly point your toes down as far as you can and then flex them back. Repeat 10 times. This warms up the feet for the following exercise.
This exercise can be performed with a towel or belt. Sit with your feet out in front of you and wrap the towel or belt around the ball of one foot, grabbing it with one hand on each side of your leg. Sit up as straight as possible and use your arm strength to pull the ball of the foot into flex position without using your foot strength to do so. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Make sure the belt or towel is wrapped around the ball of the foot and not just the toes.
For those who battle with plantar fasciitis, some massage can help. Massage the sole of the foot, paying attention to the area near the heel. By massaging and stretching, you can prevent the plantar fascia ligament from being re-injured each morning, along with reducing your pain.
11. Ball Moving, Tip-Toe Walk and Toe-Pointing
The ball of the foot is the portion of the sole between the arch and the toes. This is a common area where people develop pain, known as metatarsalgia. Certain diseases like arthritis, diabetes, and obesity may worsen the pain. Building up the balls of the feet with different exercises not only strengthens the arches but improves the ligaments in the feet.
You can feel the metatarsal bone by touching your toe and following the bone down the sole. Once you’re past the bone of the toe, you come to the metatarsal bone. When the metatarsal bones are injured or inflamed, they can cause intense pain in the ball of the foot. To relax and train the balls of your feet, find a ball, like a tennis ball or another ball of a similar size. Sit on a chair and place your foot on the ball. Slowly move the ball with your foot toward your toes and then backward.
Tip-toe walk: Walking on the tips of your toes helps to build up the balls of the feet and strengthen your arches. It can help to reduce the effects of flat feet. Stand in place on your tip toes for about 50 seconds. Now walk forward, backward and sideways on tip toes, gradually increasing the duration. Do these exercises every second day until your foot strength improves, and you can do them daily.
Range of motion: Moving your feet through a range of motion builds up the balls of the feet. Sit on a high stool so that your legs hang and your feet are off the floor. Point your toes down and try to draw your full name, using your big toe as your pencil. Do this with one foot and then the other.
12. Pick up the Pencil, Marble Game and Toe Wiggling
The toes are not given much thought when it comes to physical activity but the toes, especially the big toes, help you to balance. If you have trouble balancing on one foot or feel that your push-off requires more power, you can do some exercises to increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the toes.
You can find items to use for toe exercises all around you such as a book, a pencil or some marbles. Sit in a chair and place a pencil on the floor by your foot. With your heel on the ground, pick up the pencil by curling your toes around it. Another exercise is to place your foot on top of a book with your toes dangling off the edge. Bend your toes down toward the floor and keep them in this position for five seconds. Release and repeat.
Marble game: Place ten marbles on the floor next to your right foot while sitting in a chair. Pick up the marbles one by one using the toes of your right foot and drop them into a container. Repeat with the left foot.
Toe wiggling: Wiggle the toes around and warm toes up before doing any other exercises. Stretch your big toes after exercising by pulling them up with your hands towards your body.
13. Hamstring stretch, dumbbell calf raise, resistance band hip raise
People frequently complain that they can’t do certain knee exercises because they have painful knees. The reason their knees may be painful in the first place is due to a lack of exercise. The pain is often caused by inflexibility and an imbalance in the muscles surrounding the knees, such as the hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. Strengthening and stretching activities that target these long muscles keep them in shape so they can help to keep your knees pain free.
Standing hamstring stretch: Place your right foot on top of a low step and keep your leg straight. Keep your left leg directly under your left hip. With arms on your hips, bend forward at your hips until you feel the stretch in the back of your right thigh. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch legs and do the same. This is one rep. Do 15 reps.
Dumbbell calf raises: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and place the front of your right foot on a weight plate with heel off the plate. Wrap your left leg behind your right leg and press into the ball of your right foot to raise yourself onto your toes. Pause for two seconds and then lower down. This is one rep. Do 15.
Resistance Band Hip raise: Lie on the ground and place a resistance band just above your knees. Keep your feet on the floor, bend your knees and place your arms out to the sides with palms up. Put tension on the resistance band by pressing your knees outwards. Lift your hips to form a straight line between your knees and your shoulders. Pause for 2 seconds and lower them back down. This is on rep. Do 15.
14. Standing glute pulse, sit to stand and seated leg extension
To strengthen the muscles around the knees, it’s essential to do the appropriate exercises but also to find the right repetition range. You want to increase the strength of your muscles and promote the flow of blood and synovial fluid, but you don’t want to challenge the muscles so much that you create more pain. If your repetition range is too strenuous, you may have to reduce it. People with knee problems often do not want to do floor exercises. Here are some that can be done while standing or sitting.
Standing glute pulse: Stand on your right leg, engage your right glute muscle and keep your right knee in line with the middle toe of your right foot. Keep your left leg straight and pulse it backward at a 45-degree angle. Do this 15 times and then repeat with the right leg.
Sit to stand: Seat yourself on a reasonably high chair. Keep your feet hip distance apart and your knees in line with your middle toes. Do not use your hands to raise yourself from the chair. Engage your core, glutes, and thighs to stand up and then sit back down slowly keeping those muscles engaged. Start with five reps and then progress to 10 reps as you get stronger. Choose a lower chair for more of a challenge.
Seated leg extension: Sit tall and place your right hand on the inside of your right knee. Straighten your right leg out in front of you. Focus on engaging the muscles directly under your right hand. Point your right toe and bring it up again, feeling your calf muscle stretch. Repeat with the left leg. Do five reps and progress to ten.
15. Quad leg lifts, hamstring flossing, and wall squats
Your knees have the difficult job of supporting much of your weight. Strong quadriceps help to strengthen your knees. Try not to exercise the same muscle groups two days in a row. Female athletes are evidently up to eight times more likely to sustain knee injuries than male athletes, possibly due to the way they react to fatigue. If your knees are not at their best, do a few strengthening exercises that put little pressure on the knees.
Quad leg lifts: Lie on your back on the floor. Bend one knee to a 90-degree angle. Keep the other leg straight and lift it slowly until it is parallel with the bent knee and hold for 30 seconds. Return it slowly to the floor. Perform this ten times and then repeat with the opposite leg, working up to 10 repetitions.
Hamstring flossing: The hamstring muscles can cause a knee pain in the rear portion of the knee. Get hold of a tennis ball and sit on a box of about mid-thigh-high height. Place the ball under a leg, firmly on the hamstring muscle. Apply pressure to the muscle as you extend and bend the leg. Allow the ball to go up and down the leg as you continue extending and bending. Spend a minute on each leg.
Wall squats: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet flat on the floor and slowly bend your knees, keeping your back and pelvis flat against the wall. Hold for 10 seconds. Don’t bend too deeply and change your position if you feel any knee discomfort. Repeat and try to hold the squat for a little longer each time.
16. Side leg raises, leg presses and knee extensions
When you do leg exercises, you should never feel pain in your knees. You may feel muscle soreness after a hard workout, and this is quite normal. However, a shooting or stabbing pain is cause for concern. Instead skip the intense aerobics, running and other high-impact activities if you have any concern about your knees. Try water aerobics or gentle exercises that don’t put too much pressure on the knees instead.
Side leg raises: Lie on your one side. Bend your bottom leg for support and then straighten the top leg, raising it to 45 degrees. Point the toe of your leg slightly toward the floor as you raise it. Hold it for five seconds before lowering and relaxing it. Repeat 10-15 times and then switch sides.
Leg Presses: Sit on a leg-press machine. Place your back and head against the support. Make sure you’re comfortable and that your feet are flat on the footplate. Slowly push the plate away from you, extending your legs. Bend your knees and go back to your starting position. Increase your repetitions as you become stronger.
Knee extensions: Loop an exercise band around a strong base and then step into the band with one leg. Place the band just above the top of the knee. Walk out to create tension in the band. After this, bend and extend the knee. Try to focus on contracting the quad and straightening the knee. Perform for 20 reps on each side. This exercise causes the blood to rush to the area and help it to heal.
17. Calf raises with external and internal rotation, heel walks
The stronger and more flexible your ankles, the higher your chances of avoiding injury whether it’s while exercising or doing daily activities such as running for a bus. Exercising your ankles for just a few minutes on a regular basis will keep strains and other ankle problems at bay.
Calf raises with external rotation: The angle of the feet is changed in this exercise as the legs are rotated outwards. The position arches the foot, and a strong arch stops the ankle from rolling backward. While standing, keep your heels together and turn the front of your feet outwards, so your thighs are externally rotated. Now raise your heels until you are on tiptoes. Lower them back down to the ground and repeat 20 times.
Calf raises with internal rotation: Stand up straight and position your feet hip-width apart. Now rotate at your hip joints and turn the fronts of your feet inwards until they are almost touching. Raise your heels slowly until you are on tiptoes. Lower them back down again and repeat 20 times.
Heel walks: This strengthens the muscles that support the front of the ankle. Lift both of your feet so that you are standing on your heels. Your toes should be off the ground and pointed forward. Walk forward, taking 20 small steps. Turn around and walk back to your starting position.
18. Alphabet Ankles, Toe Taps, and ankle rolls
The stronger and more flexible your ankles, the higher your chances of avoiding injury whether it’s while exercising or doing daily activities such as running for a bus. Exercising your ankles for just a few minutes on a regular basis will keep strains and other ankle problems at bay. Stretching and rolling the ankles can significantly improve their strength and you can do these exercises easily at any time without any specialized equipment. You don’t realize how much you use your ankles until one of them is out of action.
Alphabet ankles: Use your ankle to âwrite’ the letters of the alphabet. Sit down and cross your right leg over your left leg with resting the middle of your right calf on your left thigh. Now use your big toe as a writing implement. Move your foot from the ankle to trace out the letters of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. Cross your legs over the other way and repeat.
Toe taps: Sit in a chair with a straight back. Keep your heels flat on the floor and tap your toes up and down. Tap the toes of the one foot up and down for about a minute and then move on to the other foot. Work at increasing the time and speed of the taps. The benefit of this simple exercise is that you can do it while you’re sitting at your computer.
Ankle rolls: This is another exercise you can quickly perform while sitting anywhere. You can also do it from a standing position. While sitting in a chair or standing, slowly roll your one ankle in big circles, rotating it clockwise. Switch to the other ankle and perform the same movement in a counterclockwise direction.
19. Toe and heel stretch, Achilles stretch and Toe Curls
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It’s the inflammation of the ligament that runs under the soles and connects the heel with the front of the foot. When the heel comes under repeated stress, it causes tears in the tissue and inflammation develops. High impact sports and even wearing high heels often can cause the inflammation. Standing or walking for too long can also cause it.
Toe and heel stretch: Sit cross-legged at the end of the bed. Place the affected foot over the knee of the other leg and grab the heel with one hand and the toes with the other. Pull up on the toes and the heel at the same time to stretch the fascia. You should feel the stretch along the bottom of your foot. Hold it for 10 seconds and massage the foot at the same time. Relax the foot and then repeat 20 times.
Achilles stretch: The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscle. Face a wall, raise your arms and place your palms flat against the wall. Place one foot back and keep the knee straight. Bend the other leg and keep both heels flat on the floor. Push your hips forward until you can feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Toe curls: Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Now raise your heels and point your toes. Only the tips of the big and second toe should still be resting on the floor. Hold for five seconds before lowering. Now raise your heels and curl your toes inwards, holding this position for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
20. Short Foot, Toe Spreading, and Frozen Golf Ball Massage
Working on your feet and your toes can benefit your posture, stability, and toe alignment. It can increase the blood flow to the feet and strengthen the foot muscles and decrease the risk of injuries. Even walking on sand gives your feet a workout. Your muscles have to work to gain traction because it’s harder to walk on than a hard surface. Walking around in sand can lead to better foot positioning and balance.
Short foot: This exercise works the core muscles of your foot and strengthens your arch muscles if it is done correctly. To do this exercise, pull all the toes of one foot down and in without leaving the ground. Contract the arch muscles for 3 seconds and release. Repeat with the other foot. One of the main benefits of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere at any time, whether sitting at a desk or waiting for an elevator.
Toe Spreading: Do this exercise regularly, and you will be able to spread your toes as quickly as your fingers. Put your big toe on the ground, press it into the ground and rotate your heel inwards. Press your pinky toe down into the ground, and all your toes should be fanned out, leaving gaps between them. Now bring your heel back down. Repeat three times a day three times a week.
Frozen golf ball massage: Once you’ve completed some basic foot exercises, treat your hardworking feet to a massage. Pop a golf ball into the freezer for a few hours. Sit down and roll the icy ball under your feet. It will get to the tiny muscles of the feet and give you a deep massage.