Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope my physical therapy videos for common injuries and syndromes will help put you on the road to recovery. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Ankle & Foot Pain

Stop Toe Cramps & Foot Cramps

Many times people have cramping in their foot or even in their toes, and they have a hard time getting the cramping out. You can stretch and strengthen them with a towel, and rubber bands or marbles if you have some! Place the rubber bands or marbles on the floor. Pick them up one at a time with your toes, and move them to another pile.
 
Put a towel on the floor, and try to crumple the towel with your toes. Then you can stretch your toes and foot by placing your foot on the towel. Leave your heel on the floor holding the towel in place, and pull the towel up and over your toes until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and do it three times.
 

Achilles Tendon Stretches & Exercises

The Achilles tendon can get very tight when it is irritated or injured, and it is important to keep it stretched out. Here are three simple stretches to keep the Achilles tendon loose.
 
The first stretch is called a runner's stretch. You want to lean against a wall or something sturdy.  Place the foot you want to stretch behind you. Make sure to keep your heel down and your toes forward pointing towards the wall. With the other foot in front of you, like you are in a lunge position, bend your knee towards the wall until you feel a stretch through your back leg. Try to keep your back leg as straight as possible. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and do it three times. 
 
Next, put your toes against the wall with your heel on the ground. The closer you can get your heel to the wall, the stronger the stretch. Keeping your heel down, lean into the wall. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and do it three times.
 
The last stretch you can do standing on a step or curb. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and relax your heel downwards. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times.
 

Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Your ankles are very important with balance. Many times when your ankles become weak, you get very poor balance, and sometimes even have a hard time walking. This video shows you some exercises to strengthen your ankles.
 
This is a simple 4-way ankle exercise with a resistive band. Start off my propping your ankle up or hang your foot off the bed or table so your heel doesn't touch the floor. Put the band around the ball of your foot for good resistance. First, push your foot down and up. This is called ankle plantarflexion. Next you want to wrap the band around your other foot. Now you will have resistance pulling out. This is ankle eversion. Next you are going to cross your foot over the foot with the band as seen in the video, and pull your foot inward. This is ankle inversion. Finally, you can use a table leg or heavy chair as your anchor. Wrap it around and pull the band towards you. Pull your foot up towards your head. This is called ankle dorsiflexion. Start off with 10-15 times. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, increase the resistive band.
 

Foot Cramping

Foot CrampingI got a message through my Ask Doctor Jo YouTube Channel and the person wanted to know what to do about foot cramping. Well, there are several different causes of foot cramping.  It can mean different things if you are getting foot cramping after exercises or increased activities, or if you are getting them without increased activity.

Cramping can be caused by improper footwear, so that would be one of the first things I would look at.  You can ask your doctor or therapist for any suggestions based on your foot type.  Foot cramps can also be caused from dehydration or lack of potassium.  Increasing your electrolytes with any kind of sports drinks or increasing your water intake might also help.

There are also many kinds of prescribed medications now that have cramping as the most common side effect.  Many of the statin drugs (cholesterol medications) can cause cramping or weakness.

In the end, some people are just more prone to cramping than other people.  The foot is made up of muscles, tendons, and fascia that can cause cramping.  Many of the tendons are actually attached to the muscles in your lower leg, so stretching the calf area for bottom of the foot cramping and stretching the anterior tibialis/top muscles for top of the foot cramping is the best place to start.

If you are cramping in your foot, and your toes curl downwards, then please go check out my plantar fasciitis video. Most likely you don’t have plantar fasciitis, but the stretches will help with the muscles in the back of your leg and on the bottom of your foot.

If you are cramping and your toes curl up or flare out, then please go check out my shin splints stretching video. That will help stretch the muscles on the top of the leg and foot.

Photo Credit: Pixel Addict via Compfight cc

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is when tissue on the bottom of our feet get irritated and inflamed. This can be very painful, and sometimes people have a difficult time walking with it. Often people will have the worst pain in the morning when they first walk. The pain can be in the bottom of the foot, the arch of the foot, and/or the heel.
 
There are several stretches in this video to help relieve the pain. First you are going to stretch your calf muscle, or gastrocnemius muscle. Keep your leg straight, and take the belt or leash and place it on the ball of your foot. Relax your leg and then pull your foot towards you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times. Next, you want to massage the tissue, or fascia on the bottom of your foot. Use circular and spreading motions, and apply more pressure where you feel knots. 
 
These next stretches you can do sitting. The best time is right before you get out of bed because many people have the most pain when they first put weight on their feet in the morning. You can use a noodle or foam roll, and place it under your foot. Roll lightly at first, and then apply more pressure if it is not too painful. You can also take a water bottle and freeze it. This will give you an ice massage while you are stretching the fascia when rolling it under your foot. 
 
The last stretch you can do standing on a step or curb. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and relax your heel downwards. This will stretch your fascia and your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times.