Your feet and ankles are your foundation.
Pain, injury and problems in your foundation can lead to problems higher up on your body because our bodies take the path of least resistance. That means we will compensate and require other muscles and joints to carry loads they aren’t supposed to if our feet and ankles aren’t healthy!
That is why it is important to include these moves in your workout and warm up routines if you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis, shin splints, rolled your ankle or have had any other aches and pains in your feet and lower legs.
These 4 moves can be done numerous times a week whether you’re a runner or simply have to wear dress shoes to work!
Foot Foam Rolling
One of the best things you can do to keep your feet healthy and feeling good, especially if you’ve had plantar fasciitis in the past, is to roll out the bottom of your feet, and even your entire lower leg for that matter!
To roll out your foot, place a ball on the ground and then stand on top of it with your bare foot. The smaller and harder the ball, the more you can really dig in. Start with the ball in the arch of your foot and then slowly roll it back toward your heel and then up toward your toes. You can even work toward the inside and outside of your foot.
Relax your foot as you roll. Hold on any tight spots and even flex and relax your toes as you hold on the spot to help it release. Apply as much pressure as desired by standing more or less on the foot on the ball.
Calf Foam Rolling
Foam rolling your entire lower leg is also important for ankle and foot health. Not only can this help you prevent plantar fasciitis (yes, a tight lower leg contributes to it), but it can also help you prevent ankle and even knee pain as well as shin splints!
That is why rolling out your calf is so key!
To roll out your calf, you can use a roller or you can use a ball up on a block if you want to apply more pressure. To use a ball, place the ball up on a block and then place the fleshy part of your calf over the ball. Start at the top of your calf below the back of your knee. Cross your other leg over to apply more pressure.
Holding on that spot, circle your foot or even flex and relax your foot to tense and relax your calf to help the muscle release. Then move the ball to another spot on your calf and again circle and flex and relax.
You can work all around the big fleshy part of your calf and then even down slightly toward your ankle. If you choose to go lower, you may find the Helix is better, but you should really focus your attention on the fleshy part or right below.
Bear Squat to Foot Stretch
We often don’t think about stretching our feet or lower legs enough. But we need our feet and ankles to be functioning correctly, otherwise we will end up with movement compensations all the way up our bodies!
The Bear Squat with Foot Stretch is the perfect way to mobilize your feet and ankles.
To do the Bear Squat with Foot Stretch, start kneeling on the ground with your feet flexed. Sit back on your heels. Rock side to side to stretch your feet. Feel your toes and the bottom of your feet stretching.
Then place your hands down on the ground and press your butt up into the air, driving your heels down to the ground. Relax your calves and try to get your heels down to the ground. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then drop back down to your knees and sit back on your heels again to stretch your feet.
Make sure that as you drive your butt up, you are pressing yourself back so that your driving your heels down.
Calf Raise Circles
Part of preventing and alleviating foot and ankle pain is not only loosening tight muscles and mobilizing the joints, but also making sure that the correct muscles are activated and working.
Calf Raise Circles strengthen your feet and the muscles of your lower legs to help stabilize your ankles from every direction.
To do Calf Raise Circles, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. You can face a wall or table if you need a little help balancing so that you can really focus on circling.
Start to circle by rocking to the outside of your feet. Slowly come forward toward your pinky toe. Then come up onto your toes, slowly circling from your pinky toe toward your big toe. Come up as high onto your toes/balls of your feet as you can. Then reach your big toe and circle in toward the inside of your feet as you come down.
Then come back up, this time starting with the big toe and circling out toward your pinky toe before coming down on the outsides of your feet.
Using these moves, you can loosen tight muscles and start restoring proper strength and mobility to your foundation to not only prevent and alleviate foot and ankle pain, but also aches and pains all the way up your body!
For even more foot and ankle pain prevention tips, check out these foot and ankle pain prevention moves!
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.