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Easy Feet Flexibility Exercises for Physiotherapy
November 2016 - Tony Beecroft
“Do I need physiotherapy when I feel pain in my feet or ankles?” If that’s the question on your mind right now, we’d recommended you see a physiotherapist for an assessment. The structure of our feet is very complex with each foot being made up of numerous tiny bones – 26, in fact. Plus there are more than 100 ligaments, not including the joints, tissues and tendons. This complexity allows us to walk, run and perform other physical activities. However, it’s also this structure complexity and the different movements that strain feet over time, rendering them vulnerable to injury when without proper care. However, you don’t have to wait for pain or stiffness before doing physiotherapy exercises.
Three Simple Physiotherapy Exercises to Improve Feet Flexibility
Flexibility plays an essential role in our ability to carry out numerous activities by stabilising our body movements. Becoming more flexible allows us to move easily without straining or inducing aches. Inadequate levels of pliability around the feet and ankles can hamper movement and affect the quality of day-to-day life. This is why exercises to improve flexibility are an integral part of physiotherapy treatment. If you feel you need to enhance your pliability, here are a few easy exercises you can do:
1. Toe Fan
This exercise increases the strength and flexibility of your toes, resulting in a more powerful start to runs and walks while enhancing balance. In doing this activity, you also strengthen the front lower part of your leg. You may find as you level up in your feet physiotherapy exercises, it will help improve not just your feet but your ankles and other parts of your legs.
Stand with your feet an inch apart and planted firmly on the floor without any footwear. Begin to lift your toes upward. As you do, aim to have your pinkie toe rise as high as your big toe. As they are lifted, spread them as widely as you can without lifting your feet. Do this 4 times.
2. Foot Circles
The focus of this exercises are the arches of the feet. Wearing shoes can often lessen the use and mobility of this area of your feet but walking around in footwear is something we do every day and can’t avoid. Although shoes are designed with cushion for support, they don’t allow our muscles and joints to move normally. We can make up for it by regularly performing physiotherapy exercises that target the arches.
Simply stretch your foot out and flex your toes. Proceed to steadily make circles in the air repeatedly. Make 10 or more circles in one direction before switching to another. Be careful not to contract your toes too much when you first do this exercise. If your arches are weak, flexing your toes too strongly could quickly result in cramps. To help avoid muscle cramps, take a break between every few repetitions.
3. Standing calf stretch
It may not be a part of the foot but the calf is needed to be able to properly stretch and flex your heel. Physiotherapy may include stretching the calf muscles because it helps not only prevent stiffness in this area but avoid pain from difficulty in moving the heel due to rigid calves.
Stand facing the wall with your feet planted firmly once again on the floor. Let your palms rest on the wall to support your balance. Move one leg forward and slightly bend your knee. With your other leg stretched out behind you, gravitate to the wall until you can feel your calf stretching. Stay in this position for 15-30 seconds then switch to the other leg. Repeat this three times for each leg.
We often tend to neglect our lower bodies and yet, sometimes, execute movements concentrated in that area a great deal. In walking to work and waiting in line at our favourite cafe for our daily coffee, to other more strenuous activities such as lifting groceries, our bodies need to work in harmony to for stable and fluid movements. The lower body is often needed for strength, balance, flexibility and speed, which are usually not improved by our lifestyles. Our feet act as our base which carries the entire body weight when in upright positions, whether we’re in action or at ease.