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Best Exercises to Keep Your Feet and Ankles Healthy When You Can’t Get Outside

It is not uncommon for people to experience pain or injury because their feet and ankles don’t receive the proper stretching and strengthening. People typically understand the importance of consistent exercising. However, you can’t leave your feet and ankles out of the regime. A few simple activities every day can make all the difference to your foot and ankle health.

During the colder weather, people may be less active, which could lead to potential feet issues. Suppose you can’t get outside to get the regular activity that your feet and ankle are accustomed to. In that case, it’s even more critical to do a few exercises to ensure that your feet and ankles are adequately stretched and strengthened. These exercises are simple, and many of them can be accomplished in only a few minutes per day.

Whether you want to prevent injury or perhaps you’re recovering from one, the following foot and ankle exercises are beneficial. The best part? They are all easy enough to do from the comfort of your own home. As you’ll quickly discover, foot and ankle exercise is fast, simple, and can result in big benefits to keep your feet strong and flexible.

Why You Should Do Foot and Ankle Exercises

If you don’t usually work out your feet and ankles, you may wonder why it’s so essential for your overall health and foot function. Actually, there are several reasons that a proper foot and ankle workout is beneficial. Not only does it help strengthen your feet and reduce pain and inflammation, but it could help you avoid injury in the future. Foot injuries can take a toll on the rest of your body and could have lasting impacts. Proper stretching and strength-training ensure that your feet and ankles are operating at their best.

Sometimes, people who have recently experienced a foot surgery or injury can also benefit from slowly incorporating foot and ankle exercises into their daily routine. Doing so could help speed up recovery and ensure that you heal properly. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor before completing any exercises to ensure that you won’t injure yourself or impede the recovery process in any way.

Many daily foot and ankle exercises are simple to follow and do not require complicated equipment. The few items that are needed for exercise are likely things that you already have around your home. All of these exercises can be completed in a matter of minutes and will go a long way toward preserving your foot health.

Foot exercise may be helpful for people who are experiencing pain, have certain conditions, or simply want to strengthen their feet and ankles and enhance mobility. If you have never participated in foot and ankle exercise, remember to start out slowly and build up over time. Just as with any other body part, it may take some time to build up strength.

Ankle Pull

Ankle pulls are an excellent way to stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles. Many people indicate that it also relieves stress and built-up pressure that may accumulate throughout the day. Once you try this exercise, you will look forward to it as part of your daily routine.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
  2. Cross one foot over the opposite knee.
  3. Pull your toes down to gently stretch the ankle.
  4. Allow yourself to hold this position for 20 seconds.
  5. Switch sides.
  6. Repeat three times.

Note: You will also feel this stretch in your shins. Conduct this exercise slowly and methodically so that you don’t overdo the stretch.

Toe Raises

Not only does this exercise strengthen your toes, but it also improves your calf muscles. Plus, it requires no equipment or additional materials.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Stand near a wall or counter to maintain proper balance.
  2. Slowly rise up on your tiptoes until you feel a thorough stretch, but no pain.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  4. Complete three sets of 10 exercises with a gradual increase to three sets of 30.

Note: Consult with your doctor if you feel pain during this exercise.

Calf Stretches

Calf stretches aren’t only beneficial for your legs. It can also help the foot and ankle movement.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Loop a towel securely around your foot.
  3. Pull the towel toward you until you feel the tension in your calf muscle.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Complete ten exercises for each leg.

Note: If you find it difficult to sit upright on the floor, try to use a wall for additional support.

Ankle Pumps

Regularly doing ankle pumps can improve the movement of your feet and strengthen the top of your foot.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Pull your foot up as if you are trying to touch your shins with your toes.
  2. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  3. Push your foot down, pointing your toes toward the floor.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat this exercise three times on each foot.

Note: This exercise is proven to enhance the movement of the foot.

Toe Pick-Ups

This particular exercise can be fun for people who may not particularly enjoy exercise. It may be an excellent option for children as well as adults.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Place several small items on the floor (such as marbles, small toys, etc.)
  2. One by one, pick up the small pieces with your toes.
  3. Place the small pieces into a bowl.
  4. Repeat ten times.

Note: If small pieces are too challenging, you may elect to use a dishcloth instead.

Foot Roll

The foot roll exercise is ideal for plantar fasciitis or general foot pain. Many people indicate that it offers some pain relief.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Place a ball or water bottle under your foot.
  2. Roll your foot gently back and forth.
  3. Continue the exercise for 10 minutes.

Note: Be mindful of the tender areas of your feet. Gently work out those areas without pressing too hard. Be especially aware of your heel and toes. You may also use an ice water bottle for additional cooling relief.

Plantar Fascia Massage

Who knew that a massage could count as an exercise? As you may have guessed, this is an excellent exercise for people suffering from plantar fasciitis.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
  2. Cross your foot to the opposite knee.
  3. Gently pull your toes toward your body. There should be slight tension, but no pain.
  4. With the other hand, massage your foot in small circular motions.
  5. Complete this exercise 3 times per day for 10 minutes per foot.

Note: consult with your doctor if you suffer from plantar fasciitis. This exercise may relieve some symptoms, but other treatments may be needed.

Ankle Rotations

Help yourself strengthen your ankles and avoid injury with this simple exercise. Keep in mind; this exercise should be done slowly to avoid accidental injury. Use a tennis ball or a bottle of water to aid you.

To do this exercise, complete the following steps:

  1. Roll your foot around slowly clockwise.
  2. Roll your foot around slowly counterclockwise.
  3. Repeat this exercise 10 times for each foot.

Note: Try to keep the ball or water bottle moving without lingering in one area too long as this could cause pain to tender areas of the foot.

Other Considerations

As mentioned, you should always consult your doctor before participating in any type of exercise, including foot and ankle exercises. Certain exercises may not be appropriate for some injuries or foot issues and could possibly lead to further injury. If you’ve recently experienced an injury or think you may be suffering from a chronic foot condition, then you should consult your doctor right away. 

The exercises mentioned above may provide some relief for certain conditions, but most patients require a combination of treatments in order to achieve optimal results. If you experience pain or you develop new symptoms while exercising your feet and ankles, then you should contact our office for additional guidance.

Contact Us

It can be difficult to get out of the house at certain times of the year. If you’ve struggled with keeping your feet and ankles moving properly, then we hope that you’ve found these suggested exercises useful. Evidently, many of them are simple, easy to follow and can go a long way in making your feet and ankles stronger and increasing mobility. For more information about how you can keep your feet and ankles healthy and strong, please contact us today to learn more.

At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the most useful resources for improving their overall health. Call us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

Meet Weil Foot & Ankle Institute

Weil Foot & Ankle Institute was founded in 1965, by Dr. Lowell Weil Sr, who was inspired by a need to progress the Foot & Ankle Care category into the future through innovation. As one of the first Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), Dr. Weil... Learn More »