As much as we all love to exercise or engage in physical activities, it is imperative to take good care of our bodies, and this includes proper stretching. Stretching helps to prepare the body for your upcoming workout regimen, reduces the tension on muscles, joints, and tendons, and also helps you to avoid injuries.
To get the most out of your stretching exercise, it is best to warm up the muscles first. This should consist of 5 to 10 minutes of stretching exercises, conducted in a stretch, hold, and relax pattern, without any bouncing or pulling. This routine should include the propulsion muscles in the back of the leg and thigh (posterior) as well as the anterior muscles.
There are various effective stretching exercises that can help prepare your feet and ankles for exercise, but we will discuss three simple yet essential exercises.
The first exercise is called the wall push-up. Face a wall from three feet away, with your feet flat on the floor, and your knees locked. Lean into the wall, keeping your feet on the floor, hold for 10 seconds as the calf muscles stretch, then relax. Repeat this five times.
The second exercise is the hamstring stretch. Place your foot on a chair or table, with your knee straight and locked. Keep the other leg straight, with the knee locked. Lower your head towards the raised knee until you feel your muscles tightening, hold to a count of 10, then relax. Repeat this five times, then switch to the other leg.
The third exercise is the lower back stretch. Stand straight with your feet equally spaced apart. Bend over at the waist and try to touch your palms to the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Notably, you should not bounce while stretching.
Moreover, it is essential to pay attention to your calf muscles while stretching. Excessive tightness of the calf muscles can lead to many foot and knee problems, and one key point of injury is the Achilles tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel. When the calf muscle tightens up, it limits the movement of the ankle joint.
Calf muscle stretching is an effective prevention and treatment strategy for various foot problems. Two typical methods for stretching your calf muscles include the wall push-up (as previously discussed) and this technique: stand approximately two feet from a wall; while facing the wall, turn your feet inward (“pigeon-toed”) and lean forward into the wall. Ensure your heels remain on the floor, knees extended, and your back straight. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times in a row.
In conclusion, proper stretching is essential when engaging in any exercise regimen. To avoid injuries and get the most out of your workout, ensure you dedicate 5-10 minutes of every exercise routine to stretching. If you need further guidance on stretching exercises, or if you experience any foot or ankle problems during your workout, you could contact Dr Gilbert Huang DPM for evaluation and treatment.