The days are shorter and colder which means that our motivation for exercising is probably at a low. However, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you have to stop your exercise routine and turn into a couch potato until the sun shines again. Whether you’re readying your body for spring sports and activities or you’re newly motivated to be fit for the new year, you can use these workouts to help strengthen your feet and ankles until the weather gets warmer.
Balance Exercise: Stand on one leg for 30 seconds then switch to the other leg for 30 seconds. Try not to move or hop around too much. As you get better, stand for longer periods of time and try standing on surfaces that are not as stable as the ground. The more unstable, the better the workout is for your core and your feet and ankles.
Reverse Calf Raises: Step up onto a raised surface or stair using only your toes. (Your heels should be hanging off.) Slowly, while counting to 10, bring your heels lower than the step as far as you can. If you can do this easily, try doing it one foot at a time for the same count. This exercise can help to prevent Achilles tendinitis.
Heel Stretch: Sit on a chair and take off your shoes and socks. Cross your right leg over your left thigh until your right leg is sitting on top of your thigh and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. (Do not cross completely over where your leg is covering your left leg.) Take your right toes and push them towards your shin. Gently stretch each side at least 10 times at least 3 times a day. You should feel a stretch in the center of your foot between the toes and the heel. This exercise can help keep you prevent or recover from plantar fasciitis.
Hopping: Stand on one leg while raising your other leg until it is about hip level. Hop forwards, then backwards, then left side to right side. Come back to the center, lower your other leg, and do the other side. This should be done at least 10-12 times. Hopping helps strengthen your ankles.
Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has been treating patients for over seventeen years at his Centreville, VA office. If you have any questions call us at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.