Foot drop (also known as drop foot or dropped foot) is the inability to lift the front of the foot due to weakness or paralysis of muscles and nerves that lift the foot.
It is not a disease but a symptom of other medical conditions including nerve damage, muscle disorders and neurological diseases such as stroke and multiple sclerosis.
Below are six rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the foot, ankle and lower leg muscles.
Try to be consistent with your exercises and practice these exercises daily. It will be a slow process but continuing to practice can make a huge difference in maintaining strength in your ankle, preventing weakness and restoring normal function.
1. Plantar and dorsi flexion
How to do it: Place a towel or band around your toes. Practice moving your foot down, pointing towards the floor. Then control your toes upwards, until you feel a stretch into the calf and heel.
2. Ankle eversions
How to do it: Place a towel or band around your toes. Start by pointing your toes out towards the outside of the room. Control your foot back to the middle. Repeat.
3. Ankle inversions
How to do it: Place a towel or band around your toes. Turn your toes in towards the centre of your body. Control the movement back to the centre. Repeat.
4. Towel pick up
How to do it: Place a towel or band underneath your feet. Try to curl your toes to lift the towel/ band off the floor with your foot.
5. Standing stalk
How to do it: Stand on one leg. Try to maintain an arch underneath your foot by pushing your heel and toes into the floor. You can hold onto a wall or chair to help you balance.
6. The ‘Bounce Back’ calf raise
How to do it: Start about a meter away from a wall or chair. Hold onto the wall/chair and try to push through your toes, lifting your heels off the floor. If you find this easy, take a step closer to the wall/ chair or have a go performing this standing upright.
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