Keep Moving with These Foot Exercises At Home

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If you happen to find yourself spending much more time at home than you used to—and hey, join the club—it can be quite a jolt to your standard routines.

While some people adapt fairly well, others can get quite antsy. They’re not quite sure to do with their time and energy. That is completely understandable.

But whether you are aching to move, or you’re more of the cozy, sedentary type, we highly recommend that everyone continues to exercise their feet every day!

And no, we do not necessarily mean performing a jog-in-place marathon in your living room (although that would be impressive). There are plenty of easy foot exercises you can perform that can greatly benefit your feet, ankles, and general well-being.

How Foot Exercises Help

Different exercises can have different specific benefits for certain people, but here are a few general ways it can pay off to keep your feet stretched and moving.

  • Improved circulation. If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, it can gradually impede your circulation. This is particularly bad for your feet, since they’re one of the most remote areas for the heart to reach with blood! Taking time to move through the day (a few minutes every hour, at least), can help keep your blood flowing properly.
  • Balance and stability. Many stretches for your feet and ankles can help maintain flexibility and range of motion. They can also be good for your proprioception, or how aware your body is of its own position and movement. Even if you don’t have stability problems now, working on your balance can help extend that streak through your future.
  • Relief from heel pain and other aches. If you have plantar fasciitis, you likely know how painful it can be when you start moving in the morning or after a long period of inactivity. Stretching can not only help you by keeping you moving, but also condition your soft tissues toward greater overall comfort. We often recommend stretches as one part of an overall heel pain treatment plan!

Some Foot and Ankle Exercises to Try

Before we start describing some specific stretches and exercises, it’s important to note a couple things.

First, our best advice is always to consult with us or a trusted primary care physician before attempting new exercises. We can help you determine the best exercises for your needs with the lowest risk of injury.

Second, never try to perform any exercise beyond your current range of comfort. Knowing your current limits is an important part of avoiding injury. If you can only move within a certain range, or need a wall or chair for balance support, do not be afraid to call those audibles.

With that out of the way, here are a few potential exercises to work into your daily routine.

A Simple Warm-up

This is a good way to loosen up before going into anything a bit more complex. All you need is a place to sit.

  • Sit in a chair, starting with both feet flat against the floor.
  • Lift one leg so your foot is off the floor, then use your big toe to make slow, deliberate circles in the air. Make 15-20 rotations clockwise, then 15-20 rotations counterclockwise.
  • Lower this leg, lift the other, and repeat.
  • While still seated and with both feet flat on the floor, raise both heels. Keep your toes and balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat 10 times.
  • Now, raise your heels and curl your toes inward, so only the tips of your toes touch the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat 10 times.

Achilles Stretch

Stretching your Achilles tendons and calf muscles is helpful, as both of these parts can pull excessively on your heels if they are too tight.

  • Face a wall with your arms raised and palms pressed flat against it.
  • Place one foot behind you, keeping the knee straight. Bend the knee of the leg in front.
  • While keeping both heels flat on the floor, push your hips forward until you can feel a stretch in your calf muscles and Achilles (if you need to lift your heels a little, that is perfectly OK).
  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat three times on each side.

Towel Stretch

You can also perform this stretch with a belt or resistance band.

  • Sit on the floor (or your bed) with both legs out in front of you.
  • Loop your towel, belt, or band around the ball of one foot and hold each end in one hand.
  • Keeping your leg straight, gently pull the towel toward you, flexing the upper part of your foot back. You should be using your arm muscles for this, and not activating your foot muscles as much as possible.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times with each foot.

Towel Curling

  • While sitting with both feet flat on the floor, place a small towel just in front of you.
  • Using your toes, grab the center of the towel and bunch it up toward you.
  • Relax your toes and repeat.

Work on the Right Routine for You

Remember that these are some of the simpler exercises you can start with. If you feel like you could do more, or don’t feel like these are really hitting your needs, we would be happy to discuss some tailored recommendations with you.

And if you need help for heel pain or other problems, stretching alone might not do the whole trick. We can help you get to the root of your foot and ankle problems and find the best plan of action to get you back in motion comfortably.

Reach either of our offices by calling (609) 924-8333 for our Princeton location, or (908) 687-5757 for our Roselle Park location. And if you would prefer to reach us electronically instead, simply fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff respond to you during standard office hours.

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