Tayte Pollmann’s Tuesday Trail Tip – Foot Strength and Mobility

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Improve Mobility and Strength in Your Feet and Ankles to Avoid Injury and Run Efficiently

Learning how to further mobilize and strengthen your feet and ankles will help you avoid injury and run more efficiently. Improper foot and ankle mechanics can lead to many problems, such as inefficient heel striking, plantar fasciitis, and less spring upon impact with the ground. I am currently rehabbing after undergoing surgery on my achilles tendon over 9 weeks ago (link to past article here), and it’s especially important for me to strengthen and mobilize my feet and ankles. Listed below are three exercises for the feet and ankles I do everyday to help me return to running efficiently and stay injury free.

Spell The ABCs

While barefoot, draw the alphabet in the air with one foot. Start with lowercase, then do uppercase. Switch feet. This exercise helps the ankles get used to moving in all directions, which increases mobility. This exercise is easily done while sitting at a desk or the dinner table, watching television, etc. Check out the video below to see how it’s performed.

Use Resistance Bands for Strengthening the Feet and Ankles in Four Directions

Resistance bands can be used in many ways, including to strengthen the feet and ankles. Wrap a band around the bottom of one foot and pull the band with your arms to create resistance. Check out the videos below to see how to strengthen the feet and ankles by pushing and pulling the foot backwards, forwards, left, and right.

Stand on Stability Disks

One of my favorite workout toys is an inflatable stability balance disk. Stand on the disk with one foot and try to stay on it for 30 seconds three times per day. The stability disks have small bumps to activate the proprioceptors on your feet and balancing on one will dynamically stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles. As you improve, do one-legged squats on the disk, perform yoga poses, such as tree pose, or put more air in the disk to make it more difficult. Check out the video below to see how I use my inflatable stability balance disk.

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