There are hundreds of exercises we could have put in this section. Depending on what is causing your foot and ankle pain, some of these exercises might help and some might not. It is important to realize that if any of these exercises are increasing your pain, you should not do them. Also, prescribing exercise is much like prescribing medication. The type of exercise and amount of exercise is very important. Without a full examination by one of our physical therapists at Robbins Rehabilitation West, it’s difficult to prescribe exercises that will take away your pain. The exercises below were selected to help decrease foot and ankle pain, no matter what the cause is, but it is only a “best guess” and not an actual prescription based on an examination.
Begin these in a seated position, preferably barefoot to improve muscle activation. Your goal is to “grip” the ground with your foot without curling the toes. Try to bring the ball of your foot and your heel closer together by contracting the muscle along the bottom of your foot. You should see the arch of your foot rise as the muscles contract. Once this is easy progress to the same exercise in standing.
Suggested program: Hold this position for 5 seconds and complete 20 repetitions on each side. Do this two-three times per day.
Heel and Toe Raises
To perform heel raises begin standing next to a wall or other sturdy object that you can use lightly to balance, press through the ball of the foot and rise up onto the toes as high as you can, hold the top position and slowly lower back down to the floor. To perform toe raises try to lift the front of your foot up off the ground as high as possible without shifting your bodyweight back too much, you should feel the muscles in front of your shin working to lift the ankle. Hold at the top for a period and slowly lower back to the floor. Both of these exercises can be performed seated on the edge of a chair if they are too difficult when standing.
Suggested program: Perform 20 repetitions with a 5 second hold in the top position. Do these exercises once per day.
Single leg balance
Set up next to a wall or other sturdy object that you can use to catch yourself if needed. Preferably perform this exercise barefoot to improve the activation of the foot and ankle muscles. Attempt to balance on one leg without any assistance for the prescribed time period. If this is too difficult use a few fingers lightly on the wall to maintain your balance. If this is too easy add in head turns or simply close your eyes as you balance to increase the balance demands.
Suggested program: Hold your balance for 30-60 seconds for 3 sets on each leg. Do this exercise 1-2 times per day.