A muscle at complete rest lose 3 – 5% of it’s strength per day. This is mostly unnoticeable, but can be seen in endurance performance. Unfortunately, it takes much longer to regain that strength than it does to lose it. Simple ankle strengthening exercises for just a few minutes a day will help maintain muscle power.
Foot and ankle strengthening exercises help to improve the strength, control and movement of the foot. You may be wanting to overcome weakness following an injury such as a sprain, or recovering from tendonitis, or just simply trying to improve the strength of your feet.
Rehab following an injury is extremely important to prevent long term or recurrent problems. These ankle strengthening exercises are a great place to start, especially following an injury or recovery from tendonitis as you strengthen the muscles without having to move the foot. Each of these ankle strengthening exercises are similar, but by changing the position of your hand you can work on the strength of the foot in all directions regaining the strength around the entire ankle.
These ankle strengthening exercises are a great way to strengthen the foot without having to move it – perfect place to start after an injury.
Static Pull Ups
The purpose is to strengthen dorsiflexion (the ability to pull your foot up at the ankle while you walk). Sitting or lying down, relax the foot into a neutral position and place one hand along the top of the foot. Gently draw the foot upwards into the hand, resisting the movement with the hand so you feel the muscles clench. Remember, the foot shouldn’t move but you should feel the muscles along the front of the foot and ankle tighten. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
Static Push Downs
The purpose is to strengthen plantarflexion (the ability to point your toes downward). Sitting or lying down, relax the foot into a neutral position and place one hand along the sole of your foot. Gently push the foot downwards into your hand, resisting the movement with the hand, until you feel the muscles contract. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10-20 times. Another way of completing this task is to sit down on the floor and use the wall as resistance. Push through your toes into the wall.
Static Turn Outs
The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the able and prevent the foot from turning outwards. Sitting or lying down, relax the foot into a neutral position and place one hand along the outer border of the foot, next to the little toe. Gently push the foot outwards into the hand, resisting the movement with the hand so you can feel the muscles contract. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
Static Turn Ins
Strengthening the ankle to ensure it doesn’t roll inwards. Sitting or lying down, relax the foot into a neutral position. Place one hand along the inner border of the foot, next to the big toe. Hold the foot as you try and lift it up into the hand so you feel the muscles contract. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10-20 times. An alternative way to work both feet at the same time is to place a ball between your feet, closer to your toes, and push inwards keeping the ball stable.
These foot strengthening exercises using resistance bands to improve strength, and is a great way to progress with recovery and help the foot and ankle get stronger.
Resistance bands are like large elastic bands that provide resistance during exercises. Same as the last type of exercises, these are also very similar, but by changing the direction of pull against the band you strengthen different muscles. You can use your hands, the other foot or a piece of furniture that won’t move to be the anchor for the other end of the band.
Make sure that when using the band that it is secured around your foot, and that it won’t come off but at the same time don’t let it cut off any circulation to the toes.
This will help strengthen dorsiflexion (raising the front of the foot). Hook the band under your opposite foot and up to your hand as shown. Keeping the heel on the ground, lift up the target foot, pulling up against the band. Ensure the heel remains in contact with the ground throughout the exercise.
Helping strengthen plantarflexion (pointing the foot downwards) is crucial to avoiding re-injury. Hold firmly to the end of the band taking up any slack. Press the foot downwards and forwards. Ensure that the heel remains in contact with the ground throughout the exercise.
The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen eversion (turning the foot out). Hook the band under your opposite foot and up to your hand as shown. Keeping the heel on the ground, swivel the target foot out to the side, allowing the outer border of the foot to rise up slightly, pulling against the band. Ensure the heel remains in contact with the ground throughout.
Strengthening inversion (turning the foot inwards) exercises are very important to keep active. Cross your legs and hook the band under your free foot and up to your hand as shown. Keeping the heel on the ground, slide the target foot inwards allowing the inner border of the foot to rise slightly, pulling up against the band. Ensure that the heel remains in contact with the ground throughout the duration of this exercise.
These are specific activities to improve the strength of the foot and toe muscles. The previous sections have concentrated on ankle strengthening exercises. Here we look at foot strengthening exercises for the mid foot, arch and toe regions.
This activity helps strengthen the muscles that support the arch of the foot. Sit on a chair with your foot resting flat on the floor. Draw the base of the big toe towards your heel lifting the arch up off the floor. Make sure you keep the heel, big toe and ball of the foot on the floor throughout the exercise. Hold for three seconds and relax. Spend about a minute working on this exercise. Further along you can try this exercise standing up. It will be a lot more challenging, and will be very difficult if your body isn’t ready to progress to the next level. There is only a very small movement with this exercise so it may take a few attempts to get the hang of it. It may help to place a coin underneath the base of your big toe and ensure that you keep resting on throughout for extra feedback. It won’t feel like you are doing much, but it really makes a difference.
This will strengthen the inner foot muscles called the intrinsics. Rest your foot flat on the floor on top of a towel. Scrunch your toes to try and lift the towel off the floor. Keep the heel in contact with the floor throughout this exercise. Spend one to two minutes doing this.
Improves the strength and control around the foot and toes. Place a small object such as a marble on the floor and have an empty bowl nearby. Pick up each marble using your toes and place it in the bowl. Spend one to two minutes doing this activity, a couple times a day.
Foot Strengthening For The Toe Muscles
Place a thick elastic band around all five toes. The band should fit comfortable around – not too tight but with no slack. Move the toes apart, pulling out against the band. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10-20 times.