Muscle groups and their corresponding functions
The ankle refers to the joint where your lower leg and your foot are joined. Since the foot requires a number of movements—aside from flexion and extension—a number of muscles (more than 20) hold the two structures together. Largely, these muscles act as flexors and extensors that play a pivotal role in movements and balancing of your body. To provide stability and versatility in your movements, some of these muscles are so long that they are attached at a point as high as the back of your knee.
The muscles that greatly influence the movements of your foot are the following:
- Soleus: This muscle is found at the back of your lower leg. It extends from the back of your knee to your heel. It is very much needed for your walking and standing. When you are falling forward, this muscle contracts so that your foot hits the ground, stabilizing you and maintaining your erect position.
- Gastrocnemius: This is found at the back portion of your lower leg, and it runs over its entire length. It is connected at the back of your knee and to your heel. When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards your upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk because it extends your foot.
- Other muscles: Other muscles that influence the movements of your foot are plantaris, abductor hallucis, tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, flexor digitorum longus, fibularis longus, fibularistertius, andfibularis brevis.
Strengthening exercises for the ankle muscles using body weight
You can sit down on the floor and then provide resistance to your foot with your hand as it moves downward, upward, inward, or outward—holding each movement for 10 seconds and doing it for 3 to 5 times .
Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with the heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot.
Ankle bend exercises
Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot.
When you look forarches, you are referring to the angles formed at the bottom of your feet by its bones and strengthened by its tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There are three: (1) the medial arch, (2) the lateral arch, and (3) the fundamental longitudinal arch. The arches are actually curves at the bottom of your feet, and they make your walking easier and less taxing for your body.
Strengthening exercise for the arches using body weight
Stand and place one of your feet over a towel. Curl your toes to put the towel under you, with your leg and your heel not moving at all. Keep on doing it until the towel is totally under you. Reverse the process by pushing the towel away from you. Do this for 2 to 3 times for each foot.
(To be continued)
- Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.