Ankle Management: Plantar Fasciitis got you down?
As we start to enjoy the beautiful weather Asheville has to offer us this Spring, many of us will start planting our gardens, venturing out to the trails, or just playing a little harder. If last year was any indication, that means we’ll be seeing a significant uptick in ankle, foot and lower leg problems. This article is here to help you avoid these problems.
The two major problems I see leading to lower leg, foot and ankle problems are:
• Excessive tension in the foot and calf leading to heel spurs, pain in the arch of the foot (eg. plantar fasciitis), or the achilles tendon
•Muscle strength imbalances in the stabilizing muscles of the ankle, dramatically increasing the risk of twisted ankles and ankle sprains.
To reduce the risks of these problems, we recommend stretching out your calves and strengthening your ankle stabilizers.
Stretching your calves
Lean against a wall, stretching one leg back. Press the heel toward the ground as you press your body toward the wall. If you want to deepen the stretch, place a book or a yoga block under the ball of your foot, so your calf is stretched even further. If you actually want to improve the range of motion in your calves, you may need to hold this stretch for 2 minutes each time.
Wide legged forward fold
Spread your legs as wide as you comfortably can. Turn your toes inward. Bend forward, resting your hands on a chair, a yoga block or (if you’re flexible enough) the floor. You should feel a stretch on the outside of the lower leg and ankle. To deepen the stretch, try leaning to one side and then the other.
Stand on a tennis ball (or a lacrosse ball)
Gently press your weight down on to the tennis ball. Feel around for tight and tender areas. As the areas get progressively less tender, press more weight against the tennis ball.
Strengthening your ankles
Balance on one leg. There are a number of varied yoga poses you might try, but the bottom line is that the quickest and simplest way to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of your ankles. Notice how long you can hold yourself. Over time try improving your time. If the balancing becomes easy, try standing up on the ball of your foot or closing your eyes.
Make these exercises a part of your routine to help avoid plantar fasciitis and ankle injuries!