Foot and Ankle Conditioning
After an injury or surgery, an exercise conditioning program will help you return to daily activities and enjoy a more active, healthy lifestyle. Following a well-structured conditioning program will also help you return to sports and other recreational activities. This is a general conditioning program that provides a wide range of exercises. To ensure that the program is safe and effective for you, it should be performed under your doctor’s supervision. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you meet your rehabilitation goals.
Strengthening the muscles that support your lower leg, foot, and ankle will help keep your ankle joint stable. Keeping these muscles strong can relieve foot and ankle pain and prevent further injury.
Stretching the muscles that you strengthen is important for restoring range of motion and preventing injury. Gently stretching after strengthening exercises can help reduce muscle soreness and keep your muscles long and flexible.
3. Target Muscles
The muscle groups of the lower leg are targeted in this conditioning program, as well as the tendons and ligaments that control movement in your feet. These include:
- Gastrocnemius-soleus complex (calf)
- Anterior tibialis (shin)
- Posterior tibialis (center of calf)
- Peroneus longus (outside of lower calf)
- Peroneus brevis (outside of lower calf)
- Soleus (calf)
- Dorsiflexors (ankle)
- Plantar flexors (ankle)
- Invertors (ankle)
- Evertors (ankle)
4. Length of program
This foot and ankle conditioning program should be continued for 4 to 6 weeks, unless otherwise specified by your doctor or physical therapist. After your recovery, these exercises can be continued as a maintenance program for lifelong protection and health of your feet and lower legs. Performing the exercises three to five days a week will maintain strength and range of motion in your foot and ankle.
5. Warm up
Before doing the following exercises, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of low impact activity, like walking or riding a stationary bicycle.
After the warm-up, do the stretching exercises shown on Page 1 before moving on to the strengthening exercises. When you have completed the strengthening exercises, repeat the stretching exercises to end the program.
7. Do not ignore pain
You should not feel pain during an exercise. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you have any pain while exercising.
8. Ask questions
If you are not sure how to do an exercise, or how often to do it, contact your doctor or physical therapist.