Did you know nearly 8 out of every 10 Americans experience foot or leg pain?
From enjoying sports, being productive at our jobs, meeting fitness goals or spending time playing outside with our families, foot and leg pain can stop us from doing the things we love and enjoy.
Here are some super simple foot, calf and leg stretches that will help to keep your lower extremities strong, flexible and comfortable so you enjoy an active life without pain!
1) Walk in the Sand
Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. The sands soft and “sinky” texture makes walking more physically demanding, but you will still enjoy yourself in the process!
- Head to a beach, desert, or even a volleyball court.
- Remove shoes and socks.
- Walk for as long as possible. Increase these distances slowly over time, to avoid overexerting muscles in the feet and calves.
2) Golf Ball Roll
Rolling a golf ball under the arches of your feet is a great way to relieve tension and discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
- Place a golf ball — or another hard, small ball such as a tennis ball — on the floor next to the feet.
- Lay one foot on the ball and move it around, pressing down as hard as is comfortable. The ball should be massaging the bottom of the foot.
Continue for 2 minutes, then repeat on the other foot
*A frozen bottle of water can be a soothing alternative if no suitable balls are available.
3) Toe Splay
The toe splay was developed to improve control over the toe muscles. It can be done on both feet at once, or on alternate feet, depending on comfort.
- Sit in a straight-backed chair with the feet gently resting on the floor.
- Spread the toes apart as far as possible without straining. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this motion 10 times.
- Once some strength has been built up, try looping a rubber band around the toes. This will provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging.
4) Seated Calf Stretch With a Resistance Band
If you don't have a resistance band, you can use a yoga strap, a towel, or something similar. This is a great stretch for those complaining of calf tightness, cramps, muscle spasms and plantar fasciitis.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
- Loop a resistance band (or whatever tool you're using) around one foot, holding both sides of it with your hands.
- Gently pull your toes toward your shin until you feel the stretch in your calf.
- Repeat on the other side.
#5) Heel Drop Stretch
For this stretch, you’ll need a step, a box, the edge of a treadmill or something that allows your heels to drop below your feet.
1) Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the step.
2) Drop one of your heels toward the ground while bending the other leg. Breathe and relax.
3) Repeat on the other side
4) To make this a dynamic stretch, slowly pedal your heels back and forth or drop both heels toward the ground and then raise them up and down.