Focus Workout: 5 Exercises for Developing Stronger Feet and Ankles
When people perform their fitness routine, they normally concentrate on back, shoulders, arms, abs and legs. Many seem to forget to exercise the part of the body that holds them up—their feet and ankles! It’s important to keep your feet and ankles strong to provide you with better balance, flexibility, circulation and to avoid injuries. A focus workout of stretching exercises for the feet and strength, balancing and plyometric exercises for the ankles will do wonders for accomplishing this. The best part is that this simple workout is done in just 5-10 minutes each day in the comfort of your own home before or after your gym routine.
Heel Raises – This is a terrific foot activity to do before your cardio program since your feet’s reflex points corresponding to the lungs and heart will be stimulated. You might want to stand near a wall or counter to help keep your balance. Stand with your back straight, tight abs and feet hip-width apart. Raise both of your heels off the floor high enough that you’re standing on the balls of your feet; hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower your heels back down to the floor. Perform this exercise 10 times. For an added challenge, attempt to stand on one foot and raise your heel of the foot you’re standing on; perform 10 reps and then exercise the other foot.
Single Leg Balance Reach – To perform this ankle balancing exercise, stand with your back straight, contracted abs and feet hip-width apart. Your feet need to be flat on the floor with your arches raised; don’t roll your ankles or move the rest of your body as you perform this routine. Lift your right leg an inch off of the floor. Stretch your right leg out in front of you, hold this position for 5 seconds then bring it back next to your left leg. Move your right leg out to the right side maintaining good form and hold this for 5 seconds before bringing your leg back to the standing position. Extend your right leg backwards holding for 5 seconds and return the leg next to your left leg. Now repeat all of these for your left leg.
Squat Jumps – To start this plyometric exercise for the ankles, your arms should be at your sides and relaxed; feet should be side by side and hip-width apart. Bend your knees, as you jump swing your arms over your head to aid you in getting more height; during the jump, point your toes down. As you gently land form a squat; this absorbs the jump and gets your ready for the next jump. Perform these for one minute.
Rock Out – This quick and easy activity will reduce the chance of any ankle injuries and improve your balance. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, abs tight and your back straight. Turn your feet to one side so that you’re now standing on the outside of your feet; return to the start position and complete 5 more of these. Take a short break keeping your feet flat on the floor. Next, turn your feet so that you’re standing on the inside of your feet; return your feet flat on the floor and perform these 5 more times.
Band Inversion/Eversion – For this foot- and ankle-strengthening exercise you’ll need to sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and toes pointed up. Loop a resistance band around the ball of the inside of your left foot and tie the other end of the band around a secure piece of furniture that’s foot high—like a couch leg. Now, turn your left foot inward—an inversion—and you’ll feel the pull against the band. You should do 2 sets of 10-20 repetitions. Remember to exercise the right foot too! To perform an eversion, reposition the band so that the loop is now on the outside of the ball of your foot; rotate your foot out and feel that resistance! Again, exercise the other foot 2 sets of 10-20 reps. While you’re performing these band exercises, make sure your legs remain unmoved; only your ankle and foot should be turning.
If you take time to perform these simple exercises every day, you’ll discover that you’ll be better aligned, have improved balance and enhanced flexibility. Thus, you’ll get more out of your fitness program at the gym. If you’d like more advice on strengthening your feet and ankles or would like a custom workout, please contact us.