Lower Limb Exercises

Exercises
It’s best to do each of the exercises below 3 or 4 times during the day, starting in the morning, after getting out of bed. After you have completed the exercises, put on your shoes with orthotics inside them. Do not start the day walking barefoot on hard floors or tiles!

 

NOTE: Please be careful when performing these stretches. These exercises should create a “pulling” feeling - they should not cause any pain.

 

 

Toe Strengthening Exercise

1. Toe Squeeze
Place small sponges or cocks between the toes and hold a squeeze for 5 seconds.

Repeat 10 times.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Big Toe Pulls
Place a thick rubber band around both big toes and pull the big toes away from each other and toward the small toes. Hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat 10 times.

 

 

 

 

3. Toe Pulls
Put a thick rubber band around your toes and spread them. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

Repeat 10 times.

 

 

 

 

Calf Muscle Stretches
What muscles does the calf stretches target? Gastrocnemius and Soleus.

Both the Gastrocnemius and Soleus are the major parts of the calf muscles.

Tightness in the calf muscle group will lead to a variety of foot and lower limb conditions.

 

1. Towel stretch
First thing in the morning, loop a towel or theraband around the ball of your foot, keeping your knee straight, grasp the ends of the towel in your hands, pull your toes towards you, hold it for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

NOTE: Sit up tall and keep your legs straight.

 

 

 

2. Wall push-ups or stretches for Achilles Tendon
Stand to face a wall with your unaffected leg forward with a slight bend at the knee. Your affected leg is straight and behind you, with the heel flat and the toes pointed in slightly. Keep both heels flat on the floor and press your hips forward toward the wall. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat.

 

Repeat this exercise but bring the back foot forward a little so

 

that the back knee is now slightly bent. In this exercise, we are targeting the deeper muscle of soleus. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat.

NOTE: For both stretches, be sure to keep both heels on the ground.

 

 

 

 

3. Heel Drop Calf Stretch

Holding for firm support, with legs slightly apart, position the feet so that one or both of the heels are off the end of the step. Lower the heel, keeping the knee straight, until a tightening is felt in the calf. Hold this position for 20-60 seconds and then raise the heels back to neutral. Repeat 6 times, at least twice a day.

NOTE: Do not bounce, rock or sway. The idea is to keep the tension on the muscle for the entire stretch.

 

 

 

4. Calf Raises

Stand with your weight evenly distributed over both feet. Hold onto the back of a chair or a wall for balance. Lift your unaffected foot off the floor so that all your weight is placed on your affected foot. Raise the heel of your affected foot as high as you can, then lower. Repeat 10 times.

NOTE: Do not bend the knee of your working leg.

 

 

 

Plantar fascia stretch
 

Ball roll
Use a rolling pin, tennis or golf ball. While seated, roll the ball with the arch of your foot back and forth from your heel to your toes. If you are able to, progress to doing this exercise while you are standing up. Do this exercise for about 2 to 5 minutes.

NOTE: Sit up tall and keep your foot toward your chair.

 

 

Ankle Exercises
 

 1. Ankle Range of Motion
Targeting the dorsiflexors, plantar flexors, invertors, evertors. You should feel this exercise at the top of your foot and throughout your ankle.

Sit down so that your feet do not touch the floor. Use your foot to write each letter of the alphabet in the air. Lead with your big toe.

NOTE: Keep the movements small, using just your foot and ankle.

2. Marble Pickup

Targeting the plantar flexors.

Sit with both feet flat and place 20 marbles on the floor in front of you. Use your toes to pick up one marble at a time and place into a bowl. Repeat until you have picked up all the marbles.

NOTE: Do not place the marbles too far out in front or to the side.

 

 3. Towel Curls
Targeting the plantar flexors, sit with both feet flat and place a small towel on the floor in front of you. Grab the center of the towel with your toes and curl the towel toward you. Relax and repeat.  

NOTE: You can make this exercise more challenging by placing a weight on the edge of the towel.

 

 4. Ankle Dorsiflexion / Plantar flexion
Targeting the anterior tibialis, calf muscle, you should feel stretch at your calf, shin, the back of your heel, and top of your foot.

 

You will need a theraband or elastic stretch band. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. For dorsiflexion, anchor the band on a chair or table leg, then wrap it around your foot. Pull your toes toward you and slowly return to the start position. Repeat 10 times.

 

For plantarflexion, wrap the band around your foot and hold the ends in your hand. Gently point your toes and slowly return to the start position. Repeat 10 times.

NOTE: Keep your leg straight and heel on the floor for support.

 

 

Lower Limb Stretches
 

 1. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
You should feel this stretch in the front of your thigh. Stand facing straight ahead. You may wish to keep your balance by placing the hand on the non-stretch side against the wall/chair.

 

With your other hand, grasp the ankle of the leg to be stretched and pull your heel toward your buttock. Tilt your pelvis backward so that your back is flattened. Keep your pelvis and knees level throughout the stretch. Aim to align both knees together. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.

NOTE: Do not arch or twist your back.

 

 2. Sitting Quadriceps Stretch - Leg extensions

Sit up straight on a chair or bench. Tighten your thigh muscles and slowly straighten and raise your affected leg as high as possible. Squeeze your thigh muscles and hold this position for 5 seconds. Relax and bring your foot to the floor. Repeat.

As the exercise becomes easier to perform, gradually increase the resistance by adding an ankle weight.

NOTE: Do not swing your leg or use forceful momentum to lift it higher.

 

 3. Quadriceps Stretch - Straight Leg Raises
Lie on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders to support your upper body. Keep your affected leg straight and bend your other leg so that your foot is flat on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscle of your affected leg and slowly raise it 6 to 10 inches off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax and bring your leg to the floor. Repeat.

 

As the exercise becomes easier to perform, gradually increase the resistance by adding an ankle weight.

NOTE: Do not tense up in your neck and shoulders.

 

 4. Hamstring Stretch - Straight Leg Raises in Prone
Targeting the hamstring and gluteus muscles, you should feel the stretch at the back of your thigh and into your buttock. Lie on the floor on your stomach with your legs straight. Rest your head on your arms. Tighten your gluteus and hamstring muscles of the affected leg and raise the leg toward the ceiling as high as you can. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Lower your leg and rest it for 2 seconds. Repeat. .

 

 5. Standing Hamstring Stretch
You should feel this stretch at the back of your thigh and behind your knee. Stand with the leg to be stretched slightly in front of the other. Bend the knee of the back leg and lean forward from the hips.

 

Place your hands on the back leg to balance yourself. To increase the stretch, lean further forwards or tilt your pelvis forwards.
 

6. Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lie on the floor with both legs bent. Lift one leg off of the floor and bring the knee toward your chest. Clasp your hands behind your thigh below your knee. Straighten your leg and then pull it gently toward your head, until you feel a stretch. If you have difficulty clasping your hands behind your leg, loop a towel around your thigh. Grasp the ends of the towel and pull your leg toward you. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.

NOTE: Do not put your hands at the knee joint and pull.
 

 7. Hamstring Curls

Hold onto the back of a chair or a wall for balance. Bend your affected knee and raise your heel toward the ceiling as far as possible without pain. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat.

As the exercise becomes easier to perform, gradually increase the resistance by adding an ankle weight.

NOTE: Flex your foot and keep your knees close together.  

 

8. Quadriceps and Hamstring Stretch - Leg Presses
Place the center of the theraband or elastic band at the arch of your foot and hold the ends in each hand. Lie on the floor with your elbows bent. Tighten the thigh muscle of your affected leg and bring your knee toward your chest. Flex your foot and slowly straighten your leg directly in front of you, pushing against the band. Hold this position for 2 seconds. Relax and bring your leg to the floor. Repeat.

NOTE: Keep your abdominals tight throughout the exercise.
 

 9. Hip Abduction
Targeting your abductors and gluteus, you should feel this stretch at the outer thigh and buttock. Lie on your side with your affected leg on top and the bottom leg bent to provide support. Straighten your top leg and slowly raise it to a 45 degree, keeping your knee straight, but not locked. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your leg and relax it for 2 seconds. Repeat.

NOTE: Do not rotate your leg in an effort to raise it higher.

 

10. Hip Adduction

Targeting your adductors, you should feel this stretch at your inner thigh.

Lie down on the floor on the side of your affected leg with both legs straight. Cross the unaffected leg in front of the affected leg. Raise the affected leg 6 to 8 inches off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Lower your leg and rest for 2 seconds. Repeat.

NOTE: Place your hand on the floor in front of your stomach for support.  

 

11.Half Squats

Targeting quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus, you should feel the stretch at the front and back of your thighs, and your buttocks.

Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart. Your hands can rest on the front of your thighs or reach in front of you. If needed, hold on to the back of a chair or wall for balance. Keep your chest lifted and slowly lower your hips about 10 inches as if you are sitting down into a chair. Plant your weight in your heels and hold the squat for 5 seconds. Push through your heels and bring your body back up to standing.

NOTE: Do not bend forward at your waist.

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