We couldn’t stand or walk without our ankles and feet, which is why we should treat them with utmost care. Unfortunately, it is common for people to only give attention to their lower limbs when they experience ankle and foot problems.
We need feet and ankles that are flexible and strong to be able to perform our day-to-day activities with ease and without any pain or strain. Any ankle and foot problems can have an impact on your daily activities. If you are currently living with ankle pain or any kind of foot problem, remember that it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Let’s first understand how your ankles and feet work and why it is important to exercise your lower limbs.
The Anatomy of Your Lower Limbs
The lower leg is made up of the tibia and fibula. The tibia is the bigger bone found on the inside, while the fibula is the smaller one on the outside. Your lower leg then connects to the heel, then to the small bones of your instep, and lastly to the metatarsals and your toes.
The bones are connected by ligaments of different sizes to keep them stable. Stability is also provided by the different muscles found in the big calf to the small muscles that control toe movement.
Your ankle and foot can move in various angles to provide stability to the whole body. They also provide dexterity, allowing you to walk on all sorts of terrain. All the joints of your lower limb work together to keep you agile. However, you need to keep them moving the way they should if you want to keep your nimbleness.
How Leg Muscles Work
The muscles of the calves point the foot towards a downward direction, allowing you to stand and helping you run and jump. Our calves also provide stability in other movements, such as squatting and lunging.
The muscles in front and at the sides of the shin provide stability and control fine muscles to keep us steady and balanced.
A lot of small muscles are found on the foot. These muscles control movement of the arches as well as the toes. When these muscles are not used regularly, they can atrophy from disuse. This is why actively moving our feet is just as important as giving it enough rest.
What Could Go Wrong?
Muscles and joints work together to keep us upright and allow us to walk, run, and jump. They also enable us to move freely and gracefully. It’s also why we hear a lot of complaints about heel pain, ankle pain, arch pain, and different foot problems.
If the smaller muscles are weak, they are not able to provide ample ankle support and forefoot support. When this happens, the body reacts by increasing tension in the bigger muscles. This leads to tightness in the ankle and calf. The tightness can be improved with regular stretching, but improving the strength and control of your foot is the better solution.
It is also common for people to have collapsed arches, causing inadequate arch support. This may be due to poor mobility in the middle section of the foot, as well as weak muscles. Improving strength and mobility in these areas of the foot can help improve arch support and arches can eventually correct on their own.
Although several foot problems are caused by overuse of the foot, lack of mobility can also lead to atrophy. Proper foot care means having balance between the two. You want to have ample ankle support all the time to prevent arch pain and foot pain. You also want to have strong and flexible muscles for stability and agility.