Are you a runner or athlete who engages in activities that involve the lower extremities? Check out the following stretching movements that are ideal for your feet and legs.
Most people never think about stretching their feet, but the muscles at the bottoms of your feet are connected to those in your calves and hamstrings. Any tightness in your toes could lead to poor ankle mobility and leg inflexibility. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair and hang your heels just off the edge of the stair. Your heels should be lower than the balls of your feet. Hold this position for between five and 10 seconds, then rise up on the balls of your feet and hold that position for between five and 10 seconds. Repeat this stretch at least five times.
The more flexible your ankles are, the better range of motion you’ll have when performing most types of lower-body exercises such as squats, running, and jumping. Stand up straight and lift your right foot a few inches off the ground in front of your body. Rotate your ankles to draw the largest clockwise circles you possible can with your toes. Repeat this movement 10 times, then repeat on the other ankle.
If you frequently experience knee pain, it could be because your calves are still too tight when you’re exercising. Your calves will absorb your body’s shock when doing activities such as squatting, running, and jumping, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re stretching them during your warm-up. Place your hands against a wall, and put one leg forward with your heel flat down on the ground. Gently move your knee forward over your toes until you start feeling the stretch in your Achilles tendon or at the back of your calf. Hold this position for about 15 seconds, and repeat four times. Repeat the entire movement on the opposite leg.
Many athletes tend to stretch their hamstrings by touching their toes, but this movement doesn’t necessarily allow you to stretch the entire muscle. Stand with your feet together, and step your right foot back by about two feet. Bend forward from your hip joint while keeping your back and both legs straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
After doing the above movement, prop your left heel up on a surface a bit lower than your hip, such as a park bench or chair. Flex your foot, then gently bend forward toward your flexed foot at the hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Your quads connect your knees to your hips, and can bear a lot of tension if you frequently do exercises such as lunges and squats. Stand on one leg with your knees touching, and hold onto a wall or chair for support if needed. Reach behind you to grab your right foot with your right hand, and pull your foot toward your buttocks. Focus on keeping your chest upright while feeling the stretch in your quad. Hold this position for about 20 or 30 seconds, then repeat for your left leg.
Have you sustained an injury in your feet or lower extremities? Call Kansas City Foot Specialists to schedule an evaluation at (913) 338-4440, or request an appointment online so we can determine the true cause of your injury and get you back on your feet.