Mostly runners’ feet & ankles are overlooked, however, they are the base of everything related to running. While your core, glutes & legs comprise powerful muscle groups, runners mostly work on them for improving their stride & for preventing injury. Ankles and feet are often overlooked especially during the strengthening & mobility sessions. Strong and strong feet & ankles serve the purpose of the building blocks for runners. It helps them with stabilizing their body & preventing further problems. Paying attention to foot & ankle mobility is the best thing a runner can do for improving his running ability. Foot & ankle mobility is significant to be worked upon, as they play the role of properly distributing the force throughout the body. Having an extra stiff base will make the extra force go through the Achilles tendon, plantar & tiny foot bones that will reduce your running efficiency while leading to injury.
Running is a high-impact activity, & the feet are the first point that comes in contact each time you step on the ground. Strong and stabilized are less likely overall to experience an unhealthy level of supination or pronation.
Foot and ankle mobility
Foot and ankle mobility defines the flexibility of your ankle joint & the surrounding muscles & tendons. While the ankle is flexible, that will give you a greater motion range while performing different activities. If the ankles are stiff or weak, or you want to boost the sports performance, doing ankle exercises & stretching will significantly improve mobility & strength. Incorporating ankle stretching & strengthening in the daily routine will aid in preventing accidents.
Foot and ankle mobility exercises for runners
1) Toe raises
You must not confuse this foot and snorkel strengthening with calf raises, toe raises effectively work on the toe dexterity & strength. Start this exercise by standing on both of your feet planted firmly on the ground, arches raised & three points in contact with the floor: heel, biggest toe, & pinky toe. Do this exercise 10 times. After that, raise your toes a little for the same number of reps. Then, raise all the toes & put them down one by one.
2) Rolling the Calves/Feet
As the contraction of your calf muscle facilitates the blood flow back to your heart, rolling your calf & foot rolling is a good thing not for the legs, but the whole body. Rolling out feet & calves as a warm-up exercise is very effective for the runners. Rolling your calves shouldn’t be painful, however, it must not be extremely comfortable. The thumb rule is holding your breath as you have difficulty in relaxing and doing this will ease the pressure.
3) Stretching Calves
Calves muscles are the deepest & superficial muscles they often get tight as they have to bear most of the load during daily activities. You must hold the stretch up to 5-10 seconds. A stretch that’s held for more than 30 seconds causes pain & dysfunction, but if you can hold it you should do it. You can perform this exercise in your running shorts as a warm-up exercise.
4) Eccentric heel drops
This exercise is significant for runners especially those who have Achilles issues, this workout would be a staple. Start this exercise by standing at the edge of the staircase so the toes are placed on the step & the feet dangle while holding on to the railing. It will provide you additional support. After that, raise by putting the pressure on the tippy toes & start lowering yourself slowly on the heels below stair level. Then repeat this exercise for 3 sets including 10 reps.
5) Bear Squat to Downward Dog Dynamic Stretch
Start this exercise by kneeling n to the floor with both of the toes curled underneath & sit on the back of the heels. Then rock side-to-side on the curled toes for stretching your foot, make sure you stretch all aspects of your foot, your calf muscles & tendons. After that come forward on all your fours in the tabletop position, make sure you keep the toes curled underneath, while pressing the hips up & back into the down-dog position as you drive the heels onto the floor. Hold this position for a second or two, after drop back down on the hands & knees & begin this sequence again. Perform 5 reps.
6) Trigger Point Release for Feet
Start doing this exercise by using the acumobility ball. For doing it, place that ball below the base of your toes. Then drive the weight properly onto that ball. After that curl, the toes for the proper grip of the ball then and extend your toes, for going through full motion range. Perform 10 reps of this exercise. You can reposition that ball under the ball of your foot. Then apply the weight onto that ball. After that curl the foot fully around that ball by flexing the toes closer toward the ground, after that extend & straighten the foot. The final round involves the repositioning of the ball at the front of your heel on the base level. Then apply all of your weight to the ball. Then plantarflex your foot while you maintain contact with that ball, after that lower your heel & drive the weight back on the ball.
7) Half kneeling lunge
Start this exercise in the kneeling position & step the right foot forward. Then press forward so the knee extends over the toes. You can rely on using your hand for pressing deeper in the move but make sure you don’t feel discomfort or any kind of pain in the knee. After that, pull yourself back gradually. Then repeat this movement at various angles at least 12-15 times. Lastly, hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Then repeat on to the other side. If you are performing this before you go for a run, consider moving at a moderately controlled pace.
8) Single leg balance
Start this exercise by standing on the flat surface by placing both of your feet shoulder-distance apart. You can use a chair or a wall for support. Holding both of your arms at the side. You can perform this exercise every day but make sure you increase the time slowly. Aim for balancing yourself up to a minute. Once you are there you can try the following variations, do it with both of your eyes closed, try balancing the arms at the sides, balance yourself standing on the unstable surface like a pillow or blanket. You can also do it while you brush your teeth in the morning or while you are waiting in line.