10 Foot Exercises For Preventing Falls

10 Foot Exercises For Preventing Falls

10 Foot Exercises For Preventing Falls

When creating workout routines for the body, the feet are not usually the primary target for exercise. The arms, legs, abdominals, and hips usually take top priority. The feet aren’t given much thought until they cause some problem.

Our feet move us around, but they are often “neglected because they are mostly packed away in socks and shoes,” Melissa Burgard, a certified yoga teacher at Yoga Racoon in Germany, told AARP.

Older adults have more foot mobility challenges because tissues in the foot become stiffer as you get older, which can cause a decreased range of motion. A weak foot increases the risk of falling, which is a leading cause of injury and injury deaths in adults 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Since the feet are anchors for our entire body …having adequate foot mobility is key to maintaining full-body health,” Samantha Deutchman, a certified personal trainer at the fitness company Shop Yoga Strong, told AARP.

Deutchman and Burgard offer ten exercises designed to improve balance, stability, and foot strength:

1. Ankle circles

These can be done one foot at a time while sitting or lying down.


    • Step 1: Extend one leg in front of you. Make circles with your foot by slowly rotating your ankle clockwise.

    • Step 2: Now, rotate your ankle counterclockwise.

    • Step 3: Repeat the move five times in each direction.

 

2. Toe Pulls

Toe pulls build foot control and stabilize your pace when walking. These can be done standing or sitting.


    • Step 1: Raise only your big toe off the ground while keeping your other four toes on the ground. Return your big toe to the ground.

    • Step 2: Lift your other four toes off the ground while keeping your big toe on the ground. Return your four toes to the ground.

    • Step 3: Try to lift each toe five times.

3. Calf Raises

Calf raises build strength in your calf muscles (on the back of your lower leg).


    • Step 1:  Stand near a wall for support. Start with both feet on the ground.

    • Step 2: Lift your heels slowly off the ground, stand on your tiptoes, and squeeze your calf muscles.

    • Step 3: Lower yourself down slowly and return to the starting position.

    • Step 4: Aim for ten repetitions on each leg.

Try keeping only one foot on the ground at a time as you get stronger.

4. Straight leg calf stretch

This stretch works the gastrocnemius – the large muscle in your calf.


    • Step 1: Stand a few inches away from a wall. Place your hands against the wall for support. Keep your toes pointing forward.

    • Step 2: Keeping a bend in your left knee, step back approximately 12-24 inches with your right leg.

    • Step 3: Straighten your left knee to feel a stretch in your large calf muscle.
    • Step 4: Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides.

5. Bent leg calf stretch

This stretch works the soleus muscle—located at the back of your lower leg.


    • Step 1:  Stand facing a wall with your hands against the wall for support.

    • Step 2: Keep a bend in your left knee while stepping back approximately 12-24 inches with your right leg.

    • Step 3: Bend your knee to feel a stretch in your lower calf muscle.

    • Step 4: Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

6. Single leg balance

This exercise helps to improve proprioception (the sense that makes us aware of the location, movement, and action of our body parts)


    • Step 1:  Lift your left leg off the floor and raise it to hip height so you are balancing on your right leg. You may want to use a chair or stand near a table to help you to maintain your balance.

    • Step 2: Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

7. Towel curls

Towel curls are designed to strengthen the plantar fascia muscles (located in the soles of your feet), improve balance, and increase overall foot strength.


    • Step 1. Sit in a chair and place a long towel on the floor in front of you. Put your right foot on the towel.

    • Step 2. Using your toes and keeping your heel on the ground, curl the towel toward you with your toes until it is bunched up.

    • Step 3. Perform five repetitions for each foot.

8. Ball Rolls

Ball rolls help to increase your range of motion and reduce tension in the muscles in the arch or the curved part of your feet.


    • Step 1: Stand or sit on a chair and place a small ball, such as a golf, tennis, or lacrosse ball, under your foot.

    • Step 2: Roll the ball under your foot in a back-and-forth motion to massage the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot.

    • Step 3. Roll up to one minute and switch feet.

9. Down dog walk

The down dog walk stretches almost every muscle in the body while specifically providing a good stretch for the shoulders, arms, thighs, hips, calves, and ankles.


    • Step 1:  Begin in the tabletop position (facing downward by resting on your knees and palms). Press yourself back into a downward-facing dog with a generous bend in the knee.

    • Step 2: Now begin to “walk out your dog,” reaching one heel back to the mat and then the other, alternating between left and right. Don’t forget to breathe.

    • Step 3: To do this exercise on the wall, stand a few feet away from a wall and place your hands flat on the wall. Walk your feet back while slowly lowering your chest and shoulders toward the floor. You should feel a stretch through your chest and shoulders. This is easier on your upper back but can be more intense on the ankles.

    • Step 4. Try to perform three sets with ten repetitions each.

10. Happy Baby

This exercise helps to improve your foot and hip flexibility.


    • Step 1: Lay flat on your back on an exercise mat or carpet.

    • Step 2: Raise your feet and bend your knees toward your chest.

    • Step 3: Grab the outside edges of your feet with your hands. Spread your feet and knees apart to about shoulder width.

    • Step 4: If you have trouble holding onto your feet, hold onto the backs of your thighs and bring your ankles over your knees. If your head lifts off the mat to hold onto your feet, hold onto the backs of your thighs so that you can rest your head on the mat and relax your neck and shoulders.  Find a way to practice this pose with as little strain as possible.

    • Step 5: Flex your feet by curling and extending your toes, feeling the activation in your feet and legs.

    • Step 6: If you are not that flexible, try a half-baby pose by keeping one leg straight or knee bent, with your foot flat on the mat.

    • Step 7: Aim for at least ten deep breaths while holding this form.

Source Links:

https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2023/foot-balance-exercises.html

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