Techniques for maintaining healthy legs
Keeping your legs healthy and functional is a key component of maintaining overall podiatric health. By stretching your legs properly and regularly, you can help prevent strain and injury to the leg muscles, tendons, and joints. Leg stretches can also minimize problems caused by structural defects of your feet and legs (i.e. inward-turned ankles). Whether you are seeking to prevent a leg injury, treat a leg condition, or maintain the flexibility of your legs, stretches can help you reach your goal.
Samples of leg stretches
The following leg stretches can help minimize many foot, knee, and ankle problems, including injury to the Achilles tendon. Stretch only until you feel a slight pull of the muscles; do not bounce or over-stretch.
Hamstring stretch (stretches the back of the upper-leg muscle): Stand in front of a chair, keeping both legs straight, and place your left foot on the chair. Lower your head toward your left knee until the left leg muscles are tight. Hold, then relax; repeat five times. Repeat with the right leg.
Calf stretch (stretches the back of the lower-leg muscle): Stand two feet from a wall, facing the wall. Keeping both feet flat on the floor and the legs and back straight, lean towards the wall. Hold the stretch, and then relax. Repeat ten times.
Stretching prior to exercise: Stretch the legs for five to 10 minutes before exercise. It is also recommended that you alternate between less-strenuous and more-strenuous aerobic activities (i.e. swimming and jogging, respectively) to minimize impact on the foot and leg tissues.
When to see a doctor
If you have suffered a leg injury, or if you experience discomfort that does not subside with self-care techniques, contact your doctor. With a proper diagnosis and treatment from a skilled foot care professional, you can restore or improve functionality to your legs.