Purpose: To strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf musculature.
Points of Interest: This exercise follows a progression as noted below. You should progress to the next level when you can complete 15 repetition with unaltered form and is pain-free
Level 1 - Push up with both feet, and lower with both
Level 2 - Push up with both feet and lower with one
Level 3 - Push up with one foot and lower with one
Level 4 - Add weight
*This exercise should be performed with a bent knee and straight knee.
*In an insertional Achilles tendinopathy you should not let your heel go below parallel as it can compress the Achilles insert and prevent proper healing of the tendon.
*This exercise should be performed slowly (3 seconds up, 3 seconds down). The use of a metronome may be helpful.
Instructions: Stand with the ball of your foot on the edge of a step. Push up with the majority of the weight on the balls of the big toe and 2nd toe. Slowly lower down the heel until it is below the step.
Purpose: Walking is never really thought of as a skill. But our foot contact with the ground is a very important interaction that will play a role in how the rest of our body moves. The cool walk is an exercise designed to master that interaction with the ground.
Instructions: This exercise is an exaggerated gait pattern. It should be executed smoothly, with each step flowing into the next. The focus should be on pushing up on the big toe and second toe, avoiding any tendencies to roll to the outside of the foot.
Roll from heel to toe
Push up on big toe
Land with opposite heel
Roll from heel to toe
Push up on big toe
Strike with heel
Golf Ball Foot Roll
Purpose: The golf ball foot roll is designed to mobilize the cuboid and midfoot joints. This will improve your gait.
Points of Interest: This exercise is different from other foot rolling exercises you may have tried in the past. You do not need to place a lot of weight on the golf ball as you are not trying to mash the tissues.
Instructions: Sit on a bench or chair so that your knee is bent to 90 degrees. Align your hip, knee and second toe. Place a golf ball under the outside of your foot (the ball of the baby toe). Keeping your big toe low to the ground, roll the ball down the outside edge of your foot and back to the baby toe again. Repeat fro approximately 1 minute on each foot. Ensure that your knee remains in line as you work to keep the big toe on the floor.
Knee Out Of Line
Foot Turned Out
Golf Ball Out Of Place
Purpose: To activate the intrinsic foot muscles, which help to support the arch of your foot.
Points of Interest: Initially, it is easiest to begin the exercise in a seated position. As you become more familiar and competent, progress to standing. Eventually the short foot should be incorporated into all standing exercises (i.e. squats, deadlifts, single leg exercises).
Instructions: Actively pull the ball of your foot toward your heel while keeping your toes relaxed. You should feel the arch of your foot lift up and your foot will "shorten" in length.
Toes curling and ball of foot being lifted off the ground
Toe Flexor Stretch
Purpose: To stretch the toe flexors (flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum longus). When these muscles are tight they can affect gait.
Instructions: Place your toes against the wall and your heel on the floor. Bend your knee and push it towards the wall without allowing the heel to lift. Begin by holding this stretch for at least 20 seconds and repeating 3 times. As you perform the stretch, ensure that your knee is in line with the second toe (and does not deviate in or out from that line). Some people find it helpful to place a small dumbbell or object at the corner of the wall, to prevent the foot from sliding down the wall.
Purpose: To improve neuromuscular control of the intrinsic foot muscles and improve overall foot function.
Points of Interest: Ensure you are not just rocking your foot side-to-side to perform this exercise. The balls of your feet should stay planted on the ground throughout the entire motion.
Instructions: Begin by sitting (or standing) with your feet flat on the ground. Press al of your toes gently onto the ground. Lift your big toe without lifting your other 4 toes. If necessary, you can hold down your outside 4 toes with your hand. Slowly lower and repeat. Next, lift the outside 4 toes without lifting your big toe. If necessary, hold down your big toe with your hand. Slowly lower and repeat.