The common goal of athletes and their coaches is for them to remain injury-free to be able to continue playing and enjoying what they do best.
Training at the optimal level is not possible if the athlete is injured or his or her joints and tissues are dysfunctional. Almost all injuries can be traced to wrong training methods or neglect. For example, increasing weight to be lifted beyond one’s body’s capability will most likely result to injury. Also, neglecting to do conditioning and strengthening exercises and therapeutic modalities, such as massage or physical therapy to maintain the health of the tissues and proper joint motions may cause dysfunctions in the body. Such dysfunctions may ultimately cause breakdown and injury. Though these examples are with sports people, the same is true with us who may simply be physical fitness enthusiasts who occasionally perform exercises, workout in the gym, jog or run.
An important part of injury prevention for our feet is strength training and mobilization of joints and tissues in the low leg and knee.
Exercises to Prevent Leg Injury
Try these simple exercises to make your legs less vulnerable to injuries:
- Side-leg raise – Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), a common diagnosis for an injured runner, may be prevented with this exercise in the following steps:
- With your hips and legs stacked, lie on your side.
- Lift the leg on top up. Keep this leg straight, pointing your toes inward and toward the ground.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing.
- Do the previous steps this time having the opposite leg on top.
Do three sets per leg. Work up to one minute per set.
- Heel walk and big-toe raise – This walking exercise strengthens the muscles attached to the shinbone. Shin splints may be prevented through this exercise.
- With your forefeet off the floor, walk in place barefoot. Do three sets.
- Raise your one foot, lifting the big toe as high as you can. Lower your foot. Repeat these steps
10 times. Switch to the other foot. Do three sets of this routine.
- Half-squats on a downward slope – With this exercise, runner’s knee may be prevented through keeping the kneecap aligned and strengthening the quads.
- Stand on a hill or a plane sloping down facing the down side. Do a half-squat (between a full
squat and an erect position). Do three sets of 10 half-squats each.
- If you find this too easy, you may try doing the routine with one leg (single-leg half-squats).
- Calf drops – This exercise strengthens the calves and prevents Achilles tendinitis in the process.
- Stand barefoot. Do this with the balls of your feet on a step.
- Rise up with both feet – on your toes.
- Shift your body weight to one foot then lower down on that foot.
- Rise up on both feet then lower on the other one.
Do three sets of the exercise, 10 on each side.
- Arch raise – The foot muscles are strengthened by this exercise that tend to prevent plantar fasciitis.
- On one leg, stand barefoot.
- Place even pressure on the three points in your foot – heel, big toe and pinkie toe, as if your leg were a tripod.
- Scrunch up while grounding these three points.
These are some of the exercises, which have been developed and are aimed at strengthening and bringing stability to your low leg and knee. They are important in reducing the risk of injury in your legs, thereby improving overall health and function.