This 24-minute session involves preparing and creating resiliency for the foot and ankle so that you may start a walking program.
Walking is fundamental to health and longevity. We spend too much time in protective footwear and often in shoes that are harmful to our foot health. These designer shoes do more harm than good.
With cushion and support, we lose the ability for the foot to do what it must in order to start mitigating force throughout the body. With a rigid sole, we lose the ability to pronate the foot. Pronation of the foot is crucial to walking. The foot has the ability to mold to the surface and to start transmitting force through the rest of the body. It is imperative that we allow that motion to start the gait cycle. The foot has the ability to become rigid on its own. It does so to push off the ground to propel us forward. The cycle of molding to the ground and propelling us forward is the role of the foot and ankle.
Here are some exercises to prepare you for the walking program. You will not be wearing your shoes or socks for these drills.
Circulation for the Foot and Ankle
Foot Scrub—In a seated position on the floor (or in your chair), take off your shoe and sock. As if you were rubbing dirt off your foot, start by scrubbing the skin and creating warmth as if you came in from a really cold day. Move across your entire foot—top, bottom and both sides.
Knuckle Scrub—Use your knuckles and rake around your anklebone. Scrub the front surface of your ankle where the foot meets the ankle. Then scrub with your knuckles around the heelbone.
Knuckle Kneading—Make a fist and press into the lower calf and Achilles tendon. Compress the tissue by pushing down for 10 seconds and then release for five seconds. Repeat this 10 times.
- Go for a short walk and observe the changes in your walking.
- Repeat on both feet and both ankles.
Mobility for the Foot and Ankle
Standing Knee Driver (forward)—Facing the wall, start with your left foot forward and your right foot slightly behind your left. Your front foot will be about 6 inches from the wall. While maintaining full foot contact on both feet, try to reach the wall with your front knee. Move slowly. When you get as close to the wall as you can, hold for a count of three and then repeat. Perform this five times on each side.
Standing Knee Driver (northeast, northwest)—Facing the wall, start with your left foot forward and your right foot slightly behind your left. Your front foot will be about 6 inches from the wall. While maintaining full foot contact on both feet, try to reach the wall by moving in the “northeast” and “northwest” directions with your front knee. Move slowly. When you get as close to the wall as you can, hold for a count of three and then repeat. Perform this five times on each side.
Standing Wall Rotation—Standing on your right foot facing the wall with your hands on the wall, take your left knee and turn it from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock. Perform this movement for 30 seconds at a slow and rhythmical pace. Switch to the other side and repeat both sides three times.
Activation for the Foot and Ankle
Standing Big-Toe Kiss—Standing with both feet symmetrical and hip-width apart, keep your perfect posture and slowly lean forward, maintaining that tall position. You should lean forward as if you are moving in to kiss someone. Move only as far as you feel the big toe grabbing the floor. Gravity will do this for you. If you push your hips back, you will not feel the toe grab the floor. The intent is to wake the big toe up and to help teach your big toe how to grab the ground. It is the regulator of pronation in the foot during walking. Perform this for 30 seconds.
Staggered Big-Toe Kiss—Perform the same exercise as above but with your feet staggered (with emphasis on the front foot.). Lean in for a kiss. Notice that you will shift toward your midline. You are preparing the forefoot to pronate now, too.
One-Foot Balance Reach—Stand on one foot with the other foot hovering off the ground. Try to balance while reaching at different positions on the clock. Reach the trail foot to counterbalance yourself. It is OK to have a chair around you if you need it for support. Use it only as a means to catch yourself when you are off balance. Repeat this for 60 seconds on each side. Repeat on the other side. Do this three times each side.
Go for a walk
If the environment is conducive and appropriate, try to walk barefoot in the grass if you can. It is healthy for us to get in the dirt and soil. Get your feet a bit dirty. You can always scrub them later!
Photo credit: Toa Heftiba, Unsplash