How often do you think about your feet and ankles? Probably not too often, right? Unless you're in pain. Once you're in pain, then you probably think about it a lot! Our feet and ankles are pretty important, so we want to take good care of them. If you're anything like me, it's best to keep the process as simple as possible.
To get started, follow along with us in the video above, or read on for ways to increase your foot and ankle mobility to help prevent pain. If you are currently experiencing pain, it might be time reach out to an orthopedic expert like Robert Kulwin, MD,
from The Christ Hospital Physicians - Orthpedics & Sports Medicine, whose foot and ankle expertise you'll find throughout the video as well.
Mobility drills and stretches
Testing ankle mobility
First thing you'd want to do is test the mobility of your ankles. To do that, place your foot five inches away from a wall; keep your heel on the ground and try to get your knee to touch the wall. If it doesn't touch, you know you don't have the best mobility in your ankles.
Another ankle mobility drill you can try is to start with one knee down. Grab the foot of the leg with the elevated knee with a reverse grip, then grab the heel with your other hand, then slide your knee past the elbow. Rock back and forth slightly.
It's good to remember to test your mobility often, that’s a good indicator of how you are progressing. If you find yourself in pain, and stretching isn't giving you any relief, that's when you'd want to contact Dr. Kulwin.
Plantar fascia stretches
Next, you can stretch out the plantar fascia, the muscle under your foot, from the big toe to the heel. Place a tennis ball under your foot and apply pressure as you roll the ball back and forth. This is one of my favorite stretches; it actually feels pretty good. Dr. Kulwin says plantar fascia is just your connective tissue. You have connective tissue - fascia - throughout your body and there are several places where the fascia is thicker, particularly along the on the bottom of your foot. Stretching the fascia on those important places will help conditions like plantar fasciitis.
Another really great stretch is the heel hang. Basically, you’ll put the front part of your feet on a step and allow your heels to hang over, like you are getting ready for a back flip off the diving board. You should have “hang time” for about 10 minutes a day. Dr. Kulwin says this a great stretch for the gastrocnemius. Because that muscle crosses the knee and we live in a largely seated society (amongst other reasons), this muscle almost always gets tight. A foam roller can also be great for tight calves.I've put off pain more times than I'd care to admit, and I've always paid the price. If you're feeling persistent pain, I'd highly to encourage you to schedule an appointment and get it checked out. Again, your feet and ankles are pretty important! Take care of them the best way you can on your own, and feel comfort in knowing a great team, like the one at The Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center is available to help you the moment you need them.