If you've ever injured your foot, you know how important its many ligaments and tendons are to your function. Ligaments hold your bones together, and although they can't be strengthened directly, targeting the muscles around them will strengthen your tendons and improve foot stability.
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Among these important structures is the Achilles tendon — attaching your calf muscles to your heel bone. This tendon is critical for walking and running, and is frequently injured. Proactively performing exercises to strengthen feet and ankles can help prevent these injuries. Consult your doctor about any foot pain or injury before beginning an exercise routine.
Read more: Exercises to Strengthen Feet Turning Inward
Exercises to Strengthen Feet and Ankles
Exercises to strengthen feet muscles not only help prevent injuries, but can also improve your athletic performance. According to a February 2013 article published by Journal of Sports Sciences, strengthening your toe muscles can improve overall leg power during activities such as jumping sideways, sprinting and cutting.
Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise below, working up to three sets in a row. Include exercises to strengthen feet and ankles in your workout routine three to five days per week, as recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Move #1: Static Toe Flexion
- Sit or stand with your feet flat on the floor.
- Press your toes down into the floor while keeping them straight and your ankles still.
- Hold this position for three seconds, then relax.
Move #2: Forefoot Strengthening
- Place the back of your foot on a sturdy object, such as a book, and the front half of your foot on a weight scale, ensuring your foot is horizontal.
- Press down on the scale with your forefoot so you can measure the strength.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times with each foot.
- Aim to hit or improve your measurement with each session.
Move #3: Pencil Lift
- Sit in a chair and place a pencil horizontally in front of your foot.
- Curl your toes and pick up the pencil.
- Hold the pencil with your toes for three to five seconds, then relax.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Move #4: Toe Walking
- Rise up on your toes.
- Walk forward for 20 seconds.
- Rest, then repeat three times.
Move #5: Heel-Walking
- Lift the fronts of your feet off the ground to stand on your heels.
- Walk on your heels for 20 seconds.
- Rest, then repeat three times.
Move #6: Calf Raises
- Stand next to a sturdy surface for balance.
- Keeping your knees straight, raise up on the balls of your feet.
- Hold for two to three seconds, then lower down slowly.
Make this exercise harder by performing on one leg at a time or standing on the edge of a step, beginning with your heels lower than the step. Or, try holding dumbbells in your hands while performing standing calf raises.
Move #7: Marble Pick Up
- Sit in a chair with your feet resting on the ground.
- Place 20 marbles on the ground next to your foot.
- Position a small bowl on the opposite side of your foot.
- Pick up one marble at a time with your toes.
- Place the marbles in the bowl.
- Repeat three times.
Read more: How to Stop Foot Pain with 7 Easy Exercises
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.