Keep your toes and ankles supple and help prevent sprains with these simple exercises. You can do them lying down, sitting on the floor, or even in a chair, but here I’ve described how to do them lying on your back. In this position your calf muscles are relaxed, enabling you to rotate your ankles smoothly for a greater range of motion. There are three separate exercises; do all three on one side first, then change legs.
A. Toe Curl
- Lie on your back and bend your left knee, placing your foot flat on the floor.
- Rest your right calf on your left knee.
- Without moving your ankle, bend your toes forward. Hold for 2 to 4 seconds.
- Then pull them back and hold for 2 to 4 seconds
- Repeat these two movements 10 to 15 times, exercising your toe joints. Move your toes as far as you can in each direction. Be aware that these movements activate the muscles in the sole and in the top of your foot.
B. Point & Flex
- Now point your foot, stretching the front of your ankle.
- Then flex your foot, pressing your heel out and pulling your toes back. Use your ankle as the pivot point. As you move between these two positions, notice how you alternately stretch and contract your shin and calf muscles. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
- Rotate your foot clockwise, making large circles. Focus on getting the full range of motion in your ankle, especially toward the outside of the circle. Repeat 10 to 12 times. Be aware that you are also working the muscles in your calves and shins.
- Now make counterclockwise circles. Imagine you’re drawing a large circle with your big toe.
- Relax your foot, change legs, and repeat all three exercises on the other side.
Keep the rest of your body relaxed throughout these exercises. Don’t worry about cracking noises, as long as there’s no pain. It just means your joints are loosening up.
When practicing these exercises, start with smaller movements, gradually making them bigger. Focus on the movement and stretching of the muscles of the feet, ankles, and calves.
If you get cramps when pointing your toes, just point them gently and don’t hold the position. You can gradually point them a little farther as long as they don’t cramp.
- Helps relieve stiffness in your toes and ankles and improves flexibility in the ankles
- Helps increase circulation to your legs and feet, relieves pain in the feet, and increases the mobility of the feet
- Stretches and strengthens the muscles of your lower legs, feet, and ankles; prevents sprains and other injuries