Ignoring your feet and ankles comes with a price: Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are among the most common issues plaguing runners, says Robert Gillanders, director of the Running Performance Program at Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy in Washington, D.C. Do these simple moves often to ease post-run pain and avoid injury. Watch out for these telltale signs that you're at risk for foot injury.
Calf StretchRelieves foot and heel pain.
To Do: Stand facing a wall. With heels down, slowly rotate the back knee from the 12 o'clock to 1 o'clock position; lean until you feel a gentle stretch in your upper calf. Hold 30 seconds; switch legs. To target your lower calf, bring your back foot in six inches, bend knees and repeat the stretch. Do after running.
To complete your lower leg workout, try these moves that target your shins.
Toe SpreadWorks the small muscles in the toes to improve balance and help you roll your feet through their full range of motion.
To Do: While seated, place a thick rubber band around your toes and spread them apart. Double the band if it's not tight enough to provide resistance. Hold for five seconds. Do 10 times on both feet. Do three times a week.
Calf DropsStrengthens the calf muscles and tendons near the heel.
To Do: Stand on a step with forefeet on the edge. Push up with both feet into a calf raise. Lift one leg off the step and lower your other leg so that your heel drops below the step. Take up to 10 seconds to lower it. Return to start; repeat 10 times on each foot. Do three times a week.
Seated Arch StretchIncreases flexibility in the arches; eases arch pain.
To Do: Sit as shown. Grab your right toes and gently pull them back, stretching the plantar fascia. Hold for 10 counts; repeat 10 times; switch feet. Do after running.
Four More Ways to Get Your Feet in ShapeThese daily exercises work the small muscles in your feet and ankles to enhance mobility and keep them pain-free, say physical therapists and orthopedic experts. And while you're at it, remember to find the right running shoes for your feet, too.
- Heel and Toe Walks: Spend a minute walking on your heels, then toes.
- Toe "Lifts": Pick up a marble with your toes. Hold 20 counts; repeat twice; switch feet. Too easy? Lift one toe at a time.
- Foot Taps: Sit with your feet flat on the floor and tap them 50 times, keeping heels down.
- Toe "Spelling": Elevate one foot; write the alphabet with your toes (ankle will flex); switch feet.
More: How to Prevent Foot Pain
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