Follow These Ankle and Lower Leg Stretches Recommended by Our Wichita Podiatrist

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, basketball player, or walker, it’s important to stretch the ankle and lower leg muscles, tendons, and joints after exercise. These highly functional parts of the body are a complex network of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tissues, and nerves that endure constant pressure, impact, and stress during activity. Dr. Weaver and the team at Central Kansas Podiatry Associates recommend the following ankle and lower leg stretching exercises to keep your performance top-notch. 

5 Helpful Ankle and Lower Leg Stretching Exercises for Conditioning and to Avoid Injury 

Research indicates there’s no need to engage in static stretching before your workout, as it doesn’t really prevent soreness or injury. Muscle fibers are cold, and static stretching might damage them. Instead, take a few minutes to walk around as a warm-up to your main activity. 

After your routine, flexibility stretching exercises are more beneficial. The pattern of stretching is to stretch, hold for up to 90 seconds, then relax unless otherwise directed. Remember to avoid bouncing or pulling, as this might tear muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Calf Stretch

  • Extend both legs straight out while sitting on the floor. 
  • Loop a belt or rope around the ball of one foot, pull both ends of the belt or rope, and flex the toes and forefoot towards the knee. 
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Achilles Tendon Release

Although there are several effective stretches for the Achilles tendon, this is an easy way to stretch the tendon while standing. 

  • Stand an arm’s length from a wall, then lean forward and place the hands, shoulder-width apart, on the wall
  • Extend one leg behind you and straighten, heel on the floor. 
  • With the opposite leg, place that foot near the wall and bend that knee until you feel a stretch from the heel in the other leg. 
  • Hold for 30–90 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Step-Drop Stretch

  • Using a step or curb, place the ball of the forefoot on the edge of the step, then slowly lower the heel only.
  • Maintain balance by holding a railing or extending your arms out from your sides. 
  • Don’t force the heel down—let it gradually dip down.
  • Switch feet and repeat.

Towel Pull

Use a towel, long belt, or yoga strap for this stretch. 

  • Lie on the floor, legs stretched out straight in front of you.
  • Look the middle of the towel around the ball of one foot, and with the ends in both hands, slowly raise your leg into the air. 
  • Keep the position and hold for up to 90 seconds as you feel a stretch in the calf muscle, hamstrings, or thigh. 
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Ankle Range of Motion

  • Sit up straight in a chair.
  • Bend one leg and lift that foot slightly off the floor. 
  • Trace every letter of the alphabet with your big toe.
  • Switch feet and repeat.
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