Foot, Ankle, and Leg Stretches

What exercises help prevent or treat injuries?

Before and after a run, perform specific stretching exercises. See the pictures below that show stretching exercises. These exercises may also be part of your recovery from an injury. Do not bounce with each exercise. Stretch until you feel tension but not pain.

Every day you should do 3 sets of each exercise, with 10 repetitions in each set. For the exercises that involve straight-leg raises, you will want to add ankle weights as the exercises become easier for you. These exercises may also be done as part of your overall exercise program.

Stretching Exercises

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Sit with your injured leg straight and your other leg bent. With your back straight and your head up, slowly lean forward at your waist. You should feel the stretch along the underside of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times. This stretching exercise may be helpful for patellofemoral syndrome (pain under and around the kneecap), patellar tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon that connects the patella and tibia) and hamstring strain (over stretching or tearing of the muscles on the back of the thigh).

Iliotibial Band Stretch

Iliotibial band stretch

Sit with your injured leg bent and crossed over your straightened opposite leg. Twist at your waist away from your injured leg, and slowly pull your injured leg across your chest. You should feel the stretch along the side of your hip. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times. This stretching exercise may be helpful for iliotibial band syndrome (knee tenderness from irritation of the thigh’s iliotibial band) and adductor strain.

Calf Stretch

Calf stretch

Stand with your hands against a wall and your injured leg behind your other leg. With your injured leg straight, your heel flat on the floor and your foot pointed straight ahead, lean slowly forward, bending the other leg. You should feel the stretch in the middle of your calf. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times. This stretching exercise may be helpful for Achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon at the back of the ankle), plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and calcaneal apophysitis (inflammation where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel,usually in children).

Plantar Fascia Stretch

Plantar fascia stretch

Stand straight with your hands against a wall and your injured leg slightly behind your other leg. Keeping your heels flat on the floor, slowly bend both knees. You should feel the stretch in the lower part of your leg. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times. This stretching exercise may be helpful for plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and calcaneal apophysitis.

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