13 Quick and Easy Exercises To Strengthen Your Ankles and Feet, Increase Your Range of Motion, and Lower Your Risk of a Sprain, Break, or Overuse Injury
My feet may be ugly, but they are strong. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from climbing many of the White Mountains barefoot, it’s that if you take care of your feet, they’ll take care of you.
Most people don’t think about exercising their feet and ankles until they have no other choice. A bad sprain, strain, a torn ligament, or a broken bone might be just the nudge they need to start finally paying attention to their feet. Or, maybe it’s inflammation, or just chronic pain that they can’t get rid of. Regardless, most people wait until it’s too late to start taking care of their feet and ankles. And they pay for it – been there, done that!
A much better strategy is to do some basic “body maintenance” to help prevent these problems from happening in the first place. And fortunately, it really doesn’t take all that much effort to drastically lower your risk of an ankle or foot injury.
I’ve found that some simple exercises can go a long way to prevent ankle and foot problems. Along with some pretty bad ankle sprains, I also experienced some chronic foot problems after I became a runner – and I tried all kinds of different footwear, orthotics, and prescription braces among other things during my few years in physical therapy. So, I had my fair share of foot pain and frustration.
But get this. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but I haven’t had a foot or ankle injury in nearly a decade. And I attribute part of that pain and injury-free track record to a few simple exercises I’ve incorporated into my daily life. They only take me a few minutes a day, but they go a long way towards maintaining health, mobility, and basic functionality, among other things.
So, if you’re having foot or ankle troubles – or better yet, if you’d like to avoid foot and ankle problems in the first place – follow along with this video where I teach you a bunch of deceptively simple exercises to help mobilize and strengthen your feet. Trust me. Your feet will feel great after going through this little routine.
TLC Exercises for Building Strong and Mobile Ankles and Feet
Hiking Mount Moosilauke with a Rock in Hand: My “Rock” Climbing Trip Report
This is my rock. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
This past Saturday, I carried this rock up and down Mt. Moosilauke (4802′) in the White Mountains of beautiful New Hampshire with a group of men who were also crazy enough to carry their own rock’s up the mountain with me. I got the idea from a Navy SEAL prep school called SEALFIT that hosts a 50-hour version of hell week known as Kokoro. And so, when a friend of mine asked me to lead a hike up one of the White Mountains this summer, I just had to do it this way.
While I was researching which mountain we should climb, one of the locals who has climbed Moosilauke many times told me to allow a full day to climb this mountain – recommending a 12-hour time frame for the whole trip. Various hiking websites told us to plan on between 6-8 hours of hiking time for the route we’d be taking – rated as “difficult” and “moderately difficult,” depending on the website. We had a pretty fit group that had RSVPed. So, after comparing notes, I estimated that it would take us roughly 8-9 hours with the extra, unnecessary weight.
Of course, that’s not how it played out. In the end, we covered the ten miles in a little over 4 hours! Yes, I was amazed at how fast we did it. And yes, it was awesome.
You should really try it sometime, and here’s why.
We like to think that we know what we’re doing. And sometimes, we do. Other times…not so much.
Like for me, it’s cars. Maybe I didn’t play with enough Legos growing up, but I just don’t do well with mechanical stuff. And yet, I still insist on doing my own car repairs (and usually make things worse) rather than shelling out money on a mechanic – even though I have a great mechanic who’s actually a personal friend and I love being able to support him, his family, and his business.
But no. I’d rather do things myself. And I pay the price for it…and usually end up paying the mechanic anyway!
And that’s just how things roll for a lot of guys. We like to think that we can solve every problem, fix anything, and do pretty much anything we put our mind’s to. But that’s not always the case. And it’s definitely not the case when it comes to guys working out at the gym – not from what I’ve seen, at least.
Now, I haven’t trained at a gym on a regular basis for years. But believe me when I say that I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms over my life. Most of that time was spent at the YMCA. I love that place! But I’ve also spent my fair share of time in a Gold’s Gym and a few Planet Fitness centers – along with a few other local health clubs that you wouldn’t know about unless you live here in small town, New Hampshire.
All that said, working in a gym really opened my eyes to a lot of things (e.g. the culture, trends, gym-goer habits, the lyrics to songs I’d like to forget, etc.). And let’s just say that I observed a lot while I was out on the gym floor for 8-12 hours a day.
And so, today, I’d like to present you with twelve mistakes that most men make at the gym – all based on my observations, which have not exactly been scientific, mind you. This is just what I’ve noticed again and again.
Okay. Here’s the situation.
We are more overfed, and yet, malnourished than ever before. Our food supply sucks and is getting worse. And it’s very difficult and increasingly expensive to eat a healthy, nutritious diet. We’re literally eating ourselves into disease, and ultimately, death.
The average American is chronically sleep deprived, and one in five Americans has a confirmed sleep disorder. We simply aren’t getting the rest and recovery we need on a day-to-day basis, which has a cumulative effect (this isn’t helping things!). And it’s killing us slowly.
The vast majority of Americans live mostly-sedentary lifestyles and nearly 4 out of 5 Americans don’t even get the recommended minimum amount of weekly exercise. Physical activity is more and more regarded as an unpleasant experience and/or inconvenience. And exercise is largely considered a commodity.
As if it wasn’t bad enough already, about half of all adults have at least one chronic health condition (e.g. heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis). HALF! And 1 in 4 adults have 2 or more chronic health conditions. Plus, the TOP THREE causes of death are from preventable lifestyle diseases. Think about that for a moment.
Not to mention that…
1 in 4 adults experiences a diagnosable mental disorder each year.
We’re hopped up on meds like never before, which has all kinds of documented (and undocumented) side effects.
We’ve massively overdosed on stress, which makes everything worse.
And that’s just the beginning! Shall I go on?
Needless to say: things aren’t looking good. The great health experiment has failed. We are in really really bad shape. And get this. There are actually people out there who think that “one weird tip” will do the trick. Obviously, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
So, what do we do about it?
Well, we have an epidemic on our hands – several, actually – and the crisis we’re facing is overwhelming. Today, the status quo is so extreme that it may seem impossible to solve the problem, reverse the trends, and get our nation (and our world) back into good health and fitness. And when you look at the issue from a macro level (e.g. like looking at obesity trends, for instance) – and come up with potential solutions – it is equally mind-boggling and paralyzing. You could even say that it’s a pessimist’s wet dream. And there is no end in sight. At least, not a good end.
But when you look at the issue from a micro level (i.e. like looking at one person’s lifestyle), the solution becomes very clear – even simple – and very difficult, yet doable.
- The solution is clear because more than ever before, we know exactly what we need (e.g. quality sleep, good food, physical activity, etc.). We’ve got scientific research coming out of our ears! And all of the knowledge we have access to today has confirmed that we’ve known the basics of good health and fitness for millennia. It has become abundantly clear that we don’t have a lack of knowledge. We have a lack of application.
- The solution is simple because although health, fitness, and nutrition are all extremely complex, sophisticated subjects, the process of improving them really boils down to a few key basics that will have a huge positive impact. So, yes. Biochemistry is like rocket science, but eating more vegetables and getting more sleep isn’t.
- Of course, the solution is difficult because practically everything in our society today will be working against you (e.g. technology, social norms, expectations, economic and environmental factors, etc.).
- But here’s the thing: we know it’s doable because people like you and I do it all the time. And it’s awesome.
Despite everything working against them, some people still manage to break through it all and make things happen – oftentimes, overcoming incredible circumstances. And these people aren’t the smartest, wealthiest, most capable, etc. They’re just normal people like you and I. They are the exception, not the norm, simply because they choose another path.
So, while you and I can’t solve these culture-wide problems, we can improve our own lives dramatically. All it takes is making a choice to do things differently, which will have an impact on everyone around us.
And that is the solution, folks. That’s exactly what it would take to reverse the trends, and in time, solve our health and fitness predicament.
Now, I know it’s not popular to think about our duties. These days, people don’t want responsibility. But whether you like it or not, you are responsible for your health – and to a degree – for the health of those around you (and certainly those whom you have some responsibility over). And together, we are responsible for the health of our communities, our nation, and our world. The future generations – our children and grandchildren – are counting on us.
So, will you choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution? Will you choose selfishness or selflessness? Will you choose a life of health, vitality, and exuberance in service of others or will you choose a life of disease and over-dependence on others? Please choose wisely. We’re counting on you.
Here’s a great way to get started:
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Health-First Fitness Coach
Get Off to a Great Start in Your New Fit Lifestyle by Taking These Six Easy Baby Steps That Will Have You Looking, Feeling, and Performing Better Fast
That’s all that’s standing between you and your goals. And when it comes to improving your health, fitness, and quality of life, they work better than any other strategy I’ve tried. This short guide will give you six great ones to get started with.
So, if you’re not 100% satisfied with your health and fitness – if you’d like things to be a little different, or if you’d like to get a little more out of your efforts – baby steps are what you need. This is one of many different names for the simple process of making gradual, incremental changes to bring about a certain desired result.
Professionals use them. And newbies who are in the know use them, too. And it’s because they work. The truth is that if you’re not taking baby steps toward your goals, you’re probably not going to succeed.
So, if you’re looking for a way to get started (or restarted), or if you want to take things to the next level, you can begin your journey towards better health, fitness, and a higher quality of life – starting today – with these strategies that are both simple and easy.
Baby steps are the building blocks of both short-term success and long-term mastery. And get this. Each of these baby steps will actually help you look, feel, and perform better. They offer a phenomenal return on your investment, and you’ll be amazed at the impact they can have.
So, don’t underestimate the power of these simple habits because they will make a big difference and will pave the way for future success.