Monday, 28 August 2017

Improving your Balance: Try out these 4 Foot and Ankle Exercises

 It is not uncommon for many of us to step into a hole in the yard accidentally while playing with children and lose balance. You might run after your dog and suddenly trip and fall on an uneven surface or suffer the same embarrassment due to any other cause.

In such a situation when your body loses its balance, the ‘righting reflex’ is triggered automatically to regain the standard upright position. This is a natural reaction to the mishap to correct a deviation and achieve a stable equilibrium.

If your body fails to react properly, it could cause muscle strain, broken bones, or a fall, which in turn would lead to serious injuries. Your feet and ankle are the first to react when your body’s natural upright position is upset. In order to maintain a healthy balance, it is necessary that you strengthen them and ensure their proper functioning. Here are four foot and ankle exercises you can try out for this purpose: 

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1 Towel scrunches

Sit on a chair and spread out a hand towel on the floor close to your feet. Now, use your toes to grip the towel and release it repeatedly, while trying to bring it close to the chair’s base.

To make this exercise a bit more intense, you can keep some weight (say, one small hand weight) at the far end of the towel, and then try scrunching it. With towel scrunches, you can activate the intrinsic muscles of your toe and feet, which are crucial for the overall arch and foot stability.

 2 Balancing on a cushion

Put a pillow on the floor, and try standing on its soft but unsteady surface. Making your ankles and feet work towards finding stable balance, this exercise helps strengthen your joints and the connecting muscles.

Once you feel you have found your balance for standing atop the pillow, raise your hind feet slowly without moving from your position. This may be difficult to start with, but attempt to do at least ten foot raises. This will make your ankle joints and muscles stronger apart from improving your balance.

3 Walking in a conventional line (heel to toe)

This is an extremely useful exercise to tone up your ankle joints, thus improving their flexibility, apart from strengthening the surrounding muscles. Foot doctors often suggest this exercise for patients with ankle arthritis since it improves blood circulation and helps reduce stiffness.

4 Single leg stance (with open and closed eyes)

Vision plays a key role in your body’s balance. This exercise aims to improve your steadiness by decreasing your vision. Stand on one leg at a safe place and count 10 seconds. Then change your leg and repeat.

Next, repeat the stance with both legs as before but with your eyes completely closed. With your vision reduced to zero, you will find the balancing task quite difficult. Yet, keep practicing, as it will strengthen your joints and muscles. It will contribute to your improved overall balance.

Be cautious while practicing these exercises: during the initial stages, if you need to, use your hands to get the support of a wall or a table for the balancing exercises. In case you are recovering from or have recently recovered from any foot and ankle injuries, make sure to consult with your expert foot doctor before practicing any of these workouts.