Many times, health care involves more than just taking medicine and moving on, especially when it comes to the health and strength of your limbs. Your body also needs exercise and movement to keep it strong and functioning. Much like motors and machines that stop working if you never use them, if you don’t build up your limbs, they stay weak and unstable after an injury. This is part of why physical therapy is an important part of your recovery.
What Physical Therapy Does for Your Feet
Physical therapy has a wide variety of benefits for your feet and your ankles in many different situations. When some people think of it, though, they picture pro athletes working out after a surgery or a grandmother trying to recover from a fall. These certainly aren’t the only times when this treatment is appropriate, especially for the feet and ankles. In most cases, physical therapy can help you recover from an injury and potentially avoid future ones.
This is extremely helpful for both traumatic and overuse injuries, whether they’re from playing sports, working a busy job, trying to keep up with your kids, or hiking over the weekend. This is because the feet don’t automatically get back their pre-injury strength and flexibility as you heal.
As the tissues in your lower limbs recover, they can get tighter. Since you aren’t using them, they’re weaker as well. Therapy exercises stretch out joints and soft tissues as well as rebuild the strength and power you need for your feet to function at their best. It can also improve your joints and stability. Unstable or arthritic joints will only get worse unless something actively works to improve their motion and power. They don’t get better on their own.
Sample Exercises from Physical Therapy
Anyone can benefit from physical therapy. Athletes of all degrees are the most obvious candidates who are likely to need it, but anyone who is experiencing pain or a lower limb injury could use it. Exactly what the treatment will look like for you depends entirely on your condition and the extent of it. Dr. Darren Silvester and our team at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic will carefully examine your lower limbs to diagnose your condition. From there, we can work with you to determine the best path for recovery and exactly what your therapy will look like.
Since treatment is tailored to specific conditions and your unique lifestyle needs, it’s hard to say what exercises will be most helpful to you. Some specific motions tend to be beneficial for the lower limbs, though, including these few:
- Calf stretches – Put your hands flat on a wall and set one foot several inches directly behind the other. Lock that back knee and plant that heel on the ground. Lunge forward gently on the front foot until you feel the stretch in your back calf. Hold for a few seconds, then relax and repeat with both knees bent.
- Calf raises – Holding onto a chair for balance, lift one foot off the ground. Slowly rise up on the toes of your other foot, getting that heel as high as you can. Repeat multiple times with both feet.
- Picking up marbles – Put marbles on the ground next to a cup. Using just your toes, pick them up and place them into the cup.
- Writing the alphabet – Using just the foot below your ankle, “write” out the alphabet on the floor with your toes.