Foot drop is a symptom of a wide variety of conditions. It is caused by damage to the nerves or the muscles in the lower leg and angle. It causes walking difficulty in which the front of the foot doesn't get picked up when the person is walking. It can cause the walker to lift their knee and drop their foot or it can cause their foot to drag a bit. In either case it looks as if the walker's feet are heavier than they should be. The good news is there are some foot drop exercises you can do that can help. While you should definitely use these exercises, you should also remember that there is a larger issue behind the foot drop that should also be addressed.
Whenever you are starting a new exercise plan (even simple foot drop exercises) you should talk to your physician. This is even more important because you need to adjust what the underlying condition as well as the drop foot itself. You should also take it slow and start out by picking out two or three exercises and doing a few of them and then going from there. Over time you can work yourself up to doing more, but if you jump right in and start doing too much you could really hurt yourself.
Foot Drop Exercises
There are a number of movements that are common called foot drop exercises or even drop foot exercises. Whatever you call them, these are the ones most commonly recommended for the issue. However, they are not the only ones that you can do.
On very common exercise that is done to strengthen the muscles and help to relieve drop foot is the ankle rotation. To do this you should sit in a chair and lift on foot up. Then you should rotate the foot in one direction for a few rotations and then do it in the other direction. Repeat with the other foot.
To do the foot rock foot drop exercise you will want to be in the same position and this time rock the ankle back and forth. You want to make sure that you are bringing it as far forward as possible and as far back as possible. Make sure you do one foot and then the next.
Another great exercise to do is foot curls. You should raise your leg up and then bend the foot forward to bring the toes toward the body, then curl them in the other direction. Repeat a few times and then move on to the other foot.
When you are working on bettering your gait, you should work on strengthening the legs and feet. You want stronger muscles from the hamstrings to the toes. Gaining muscle strength makes it easier for you to walk. It can also reduce the pain and fatigue that foot drop can cause.
Marble Pick Up
One thing you can do to strengthen the feet is to pick up marbles. To do this you should pick up small objects, such as marbles, with your toes. At first it might be hard to pick them up, but with practice your toes and foot will get strong enough to pick them up.
Strengthening the calves can be done by standing on the floor. You should make sure your feet are under you firmly and then use your heels to push yourself up onto your toes. Hold yourself up there for a few seconds and then gently put yourself down. Repeat a few times. As you get stronger you should do the calf raises for longer and do more of them at a time.
To do squats you will want to stand with your legs apart and lined up with your shoulders. Hold your back straight as you bend your knees and lower yourself as low as you can up to the point where your thighs are parallel to the ground. This is actually your goal. Repeat several times to strengthen the hamstrings as well as other muscles in the legs.
The next thing you want to do is make sure that you stretch out the muscles and tendons in your legs. This can be done with a huge variety of stretches and you can use any methods that you already know to stretch them out. You can also use the following stretches to help.
There are a lot of different options that you have for stretching out your hamstrings. One of your options is to sit down on the floor with both legs together and in front of you. You will want to reach toward your toes. Go slowly and go as far as you can.
You can use the same position that you use to stretch your hamstrings to stretch your calves. You can use a rope or exercise band that goes around the toes at the top of your foot. You will then want to flex your foot and toes toward your body. You can also give a gentle pull with the rope or band. You should then do it on the other side.
The Achilles Tendon is the tendon that connects the heel of the foot to the calf. You will want to sit on the floor with one leg straight and out in front of you. The other leg should be bent and pulled close to your body. You want your heel as close to your bottom as possible. The heel of your foot should stay on the ground as you pull the rest of your foot toward your body, slowly and gently. You will then with the other foot/tendon.
Many of the exercises often called foot drop exercises are stretches for your ankles. However, it never hurts to do more of these as you are ready. One good choice is to sit with your legs outstretched and keep your heels on the ground. Then you should roll the ankle so that your foot points inward as far as you can without any pain. Then roll the foot so that it points outward as far as you can without pain. Repeat for several times.
One thing that most people don't think about stretching is their toes. However, this is a very good thing to do when working with your feet and doing foot drop exercises. You should place a rubber band around your toes. It should be tight enough that it hugs your foot and loose enough that it isn't cutting into your feet or toes. You will then hold your leg and foot out and then stretch the toes. Your goal is to have the rubber band stretch as you stretch out your toes.
Improving your balance can also make it easier for you to control how your legs and feet work. There are a lot of different balancing exercises and when you do them you can make a huge difference in how you function.
Another thing you can do is exercise. One of the best things you can do for foot drop is cycling. This works well when you ride a bike (any type of bike including a bicycle, tricycle, or recumbent bike) or indoor exercise equipment such as a stationary bike or peddler.
No matter which things you choose to do you should start small and build yourself up. You also want to take into account your other conditions. You should strive not to overdo it and to take your time. Foot drop exercises can make a huge difference in your gait and even in your life, but you don't want to go too fast or do too much too soon.