Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

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.

 

Improve Your Balance

Weak ankles can cause poor balance among other things. This video will show you some great balance exercises to get your ankles and fine motor muscles stronger. Start with progression by holding on with two hands. When that gets easy, go to one hand, then some fingers, and then eventually not hold on at all.

The first exercise is putting your feet as close together as you can. This is called the Rhomberg stance. If that is easy, try closing your eyes. If that is easy, move your head from side to side, and up and down. Then combine them together with head movements and eyes closed. The next balance exercise is called tandem stance. This is with one foot directly in front of the other like you are standing on a tight rope. Follow the same progression as above. Make sure to switch your feet. If all of these become easy, you can try standing on one foot and doing the same progression. For higher level exercises, you can try it with an uneven surface. Try standing on a pillow or a foam cushion and go through all the exercises above. 

 

Foot Cramping

I 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.

Shin Splints (Stretching)

If you frequently get shin splints, here are some simple stretches to help prevent or relieve them. Once you have checked this video out, you can watch the shin splint strengthening video to help keep them strong and prevent further injuries.

Shin splints occur very often in runners who are training for long distance running. The tibialas muscles become inflamed and irritated. Most of the time it is your anterior tibialis muscle, the one in the front, but occasionally they can be your posterior tibialis muscle, the one in the back. Make sure to go to a doctor to get evaluated because sometimes you can have a stress fracture instead of shin splints.

Start off by sitting in a long sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Point your toes downward as far as you comfortably can. You can add a little pressure to get an extra stretch. For more of a stretch, roll over and flatten your feet in a push up position, and push up on the top of your feet. Then you can try kneeling back onto your feet with your toenails on the floor, and lift up onto your toes as seen in the video.

Now you will see some stretches with a noodle or foam roll. Place the roll on the top of your knee, and roll it down your shin or anterior tibialis. Apply more body pressure to get more of a stretch. Then you can turn over and do the same thing with your calf. Roll down your calf muscle, or gastrocnemius muscle, and apply more body pressure for more of a stretch.

 

Shin Splints (Strengthening)

The key to preventing shin splints is to strengthen your muscles. Check out the stretching video for shin splints first, and then check out this video to keep the lower leg muscles strong to prevent them from happening again.

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. The next exercise will be standing. Rise up on your toes, and then rock back onto your heels. Hold onto something to start with to keep your balance.

Then you can add some dynamic movement with it, and try walking on your toes and then on your heels. Now you are going to drag your toe forward to strengthen the anterior tibilias muscle. Finally, you can use a step to get extra motion. Put the ball of your foot on the edge of the step, and drop your heel down as far as you can. Then push up as far as you can. If that becomes easy, try one foot at a time. 

 

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