Our feet and ankles are complex so they can be prone to pain. If you have ever experienced pain in your feet you will understand just how much it impacts your entire body. If we keep our feet healthy through strengthening and mobilsation exercises to keep them moving freely and pain free.
Well nearly ¼ of the body’s bones live in our feet actually, each foot is made up of 28 bones, 30 joints and 100+ muscles/ligaments/ tendons. Our foot has so many functions for a single post to bear. We definitely don’t give them the gratitude they deserve for keeping us upright without thought, serving as a propulsive lever and shock absorber which constantly suffers compressive, tensile, shearing and rotatory forces.
When there is dysfunction within the foot it interferes with lower extremity biomechanics, posing extra pressure on other joints.
This includes the big toe, mid foot, ankle and calves.
Something as trivial as restriction to the big toe can increase the risk of ACL injuries in athletes.
We see the importance of the big toe and ankle dorsiflexion during walking/running. Through this movement the big toe along with the ankle joint will dorsiflex bend upwards, towards the shin, lengthening the calf and raising the arch of the midfoot. At this point the sole of the foot will turn towards the midline whole the knee externally rotates (outwards). This knee external rotation is important for glute activation and propulsion. When the heel hits the ground the plantar fascia will tense creating a rigid lever to push off.
The goal is 60-90 degree of toe extension along with 16-25 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion. With restriction comes a decrease in stride length, and hip extension which will decrease glute activation, thus decreasing propulsion forward. Knee’s will overcompensate which leads to this increase in ACL injury.
So don’t allow your feet to be the reason for further injury. Instead get them moving freely!
- Extend your toe up and place it against a box/ wall
- Shift your weight back and forth to find a tension point where you can feel a stretch through the base of your feet. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Complete on both sides multiple times a day.
- Kneel with your toes under your feet.
- Slowly shift your weight over your feet to increase intensity.
- Make a fist and place between toe and box.
- Keep heels on the ground and shift weight over the foot.
- Make sure to make the knee track over the 2/3rd toe.
- Only go as far as the knee can go without the heel lifting.
- Like the photo you can add an opposite force by using a resistance band.
- On the last step allow your heels to hang over the back of the step
- You can do this with both feet or one at a time.
- Or use a strap around the ball of the feet and pull your toes up.
Eccentric calf drops:
- Go on to tippy toes take one leg away (hold on to something)
- Slowly lower down
- Really allow the calf to stretch at the end.
- Roll back and forth through the calf with either a foam roller or trigger point ball.
- Find a sore point and point the toe up and down.
For more information, or to perfect these exercises don’t hesitate to book in with one of our health professionals.