Workout Wednesday-Foot and Ankle Strength

Happy Hump Day SRC Community!

Today’s Workout Wednesday post is all about foot and ankle strengthening!

As runners, our feet and ankles (and our whole bodies really) experience a tremendous amount of force. Research has found that a force of up to three times the body weight is exerted on the foot while running. This is crazy to think about, especially when we consider how much we are doing (or aren’t doing) to strengthen our feet and ankles so they can better handle this force. Too few runners pay proper attention to their foot and ankle strength, and are more susceptible to injury because of it.

But do not fear! This post will give you a great beginners program to foot and ankle strengthening! This is a program that I use myself, three times a week. It is simple and requires only a few pieces of equipment!

Banded Exercises

These three exercises are great for strengthening the muscles of the lateral compartment (everters), anterior compartment (inverters), and posterior compartment (flex the ankle and invert the foot) of the leg.

  • Banded plantar flexion

Using a resistance band wrapped around the forefoot plantar flex the foot (gas pedal motion)

Do each side 2×10 reps

  • Banded inverters

Wrap the band around the forefoot of one foot. Then take the other foot and cross it over that foot, pushing against the band. Then invert the foot the band is wrapped around.

Do each side 2×10 reps

  • Banded everters

Wrap the band around the forefoot of one foot. Pull the band horizontally and wrap it around the other foot. Then evert the foot that the band was initially wrapped around.

Do each side 2×10 reps

 Arch muscles

This series of exercises work to strengthen the arch muscles of the foot. These muscles are critical, because they absorb shock and support the integrity of the foot. These exercises are great for preventing plantar fasciitis.

Towel curls

Place a towel on the ground. Using your toes, pull towel towards you. Keep the heel on the ground

Do 2 sets of 10 crunches

To work the lateral arch (pronators) place the towel horizontal and pull the towel laterally (away from the midline of the body)

To work the medial arch (supinators) place the towel horizontal and pulling the towel medially (toward the midline of the body

When these exercises becomes easy, place a light weight at the end of the towel for resistance

Sock weight

These exercises works the tibialis posterior (inverts the foot) and the peroneal muscles (evert the foot).

Place a light weight in a long sock (a soccer sock works great). Tie the sock around the forefoot and place it between your toes. Point the foot downward then move diagonally up one side. Come back down, then move diagonally up the other side (creating a V shape).

Perform 2×10 on each side.

For the tibialis anterior (shin muscles) point the foot downward and move the foot upward.  

Seated heel raises

These exercises work the soleus, which is the deep calf muscle. This muscle is the prime blood pumper in our lower bodies.

Sit on a chair, with feet placed on the floor. Keep knees bent and place a light weight (~5 lbs) on the thighs. Bring heels up and back down. Do 2 sets of 10 reps

Then internally rotate toes and complete 2 sets 10 reps

Finally, externally rotate toes and complete 2 sets 10 reps

Standing Heel raises

These exercises build the arch, calf muscles, and achilles tendon. Be sure to get all the way up on metatarsal arch.

Standing with both feet on the ground, rise up onto your toes. Do this 2 time 10 reps.

You can then internally rotate toes for 2 times 10 reps, and externally rotate toes for 2 times 10 reps.

Single leg balance

This exercise is great for improving balance, stabilizing, and strengthening the lower leg, foot and ankle muscles.

Simply balance on one leg for 30 seconds. Switch legs and balance for another 30 seconds.

To add a challenge, try balancing on one leg with eyes closed. Do this 3 time, balancing for 30 seconds on each leg.


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