One of the benefits of running trails as opposed to roads is that our ankles, lower legs and core muscles get a greater workout with the stabilising muscles being engaged more. The advantages of strength training for runners is often cited, particularly in relation to those large muscle groups in the legs of quads, glutes and hamstrings. But what about those smaller ones in the feet, ankles and calves? Spend a bit of time on these drills and stretches to improve strength, stability and help prevent injury. Your legs will thank you!
Start with bare feet on a solid surface (preferably not soft carpet). Stand straight with feet hips distance apart. Lift all your toes and place them down one-by-one starting with the outside (pinky!) toes first spreading them out nice and wide. Lean from the ankles forward/backwards and side to side a few times eventually finding what feels like a comfortable centre.
Big toe presses: Press ONLY your big toe down for 5 seconds x 5
Bit toe lifts: Lift only your big toe x10. Do this 3 times
Alphabet balance: Lift one leg in front of you and write the alphabet with your foot (like a paintbrush!) Repeat with the other foot.
Walk forward on your toes 30 steps
Walk backwards on your toes 30 steps
Walk forward on your heels 30 steps
Walk backwards on your heels 30 steps
Raise yourself up onto your toes with feet facing forwards and slowly lower back down 15 times.
Raise yourself up onto your toes with feet facing outwards and slowly lower back down 15 times.
Raise yourself up onto your toes with feet facing inwards and slowly lower back down 15 times.
Lay a towel on the floor and try to scrunch it up using only the toes on one foot. Repeat with the other foot.