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How to strengthen your lower legs & feet

For lower back, hip, knee, calf, ankle or foot pain.

Problems with the feet and ankles can cause issues with the knees, hips or lower back pain, so taking care of them is important especially if you are particularly active or have had an injury.   

In my early 20s I broke my ankle awkwardly.  I had an operation to have a plate and five pins fitted, unfortunately my body rejected the metalwork and a year later I had to have another operation to have them removed.  As a result I had various issues with weakness and some pain, until I discovered the Bowen Technique.  Treatment is painless, quick and looks at whole body alignment, which is often affected with an injury such as mine.  I also use exercises from Pete Ergoscue which help to keep it strong and flexible.  Movement helps to keep the fascia fluid, flexible and strong.

This exercise strengthens from the knee to the toes:

  • Foot circles: Lie on a flat surface with one leg outstretched; hold the other leg behind the knee at a 90 degree angle.  Rotate the foot in circles, outside first - working your way up to 30 times, then repeat inside circles x30.
  • Foot flexes: Keeping this position flex your toes away from you, then bring them in towards you engaging the toes as you point and flex, working your way up to 30 times.  

Complete this exercise daily.  Sitting and doing a few foot circles will not have the same effect.  If you prefer to watch a video explanation follow this Youtube link.  


Do you need or wear foot orthotics?

Orthotics can be useful for those who have ‘fallen arches’ or rotated feet.  Some therapists advise and make orthotics of different heights, stating there is a difference in leg length.  Different leg length is very rare; a high percentage of diagnosed leg length difference is often actually caused by the pelvis being out of alignment, which can be realigned quickly and painlessly with the Bowen Technique.  The pelvis is key to correct alignment and posture of the whole body.  Often a misaligned pelvis is the cause of lower back pain, shoulder pain, knee, ankle and foot problems.  When the pelvis corrected the problem area caused by compensating for the imbalance can then be treated.

Recently a client reported a therapist advised her to wear just one orthotic to support a medially rotated foot.  If I hadn’t seen her shortly after her appointment she would have put more strain on her pelvis by walking with a 1cm wedge in one shoe, knocking it out of alignment leading to all kinds of issues with her hips, knees and ankles.

If your feet need extra support gel orthotics are recommended and always ensure you wear both of them even if the problem is only with one foot.  If you think you might need to get orthotics made by a podiatrist I recommend you have Bowen treatment first to align the body and ensure you get them checked or changed every year or two. Here is an example of gel orthotics available on the market.

If you are a keen walker, rambler, runner or your feet do not rest in a straight line your Tibialis Anterior muscle could need some work.  The Tibialis Anterior muscle runs alongside the outside of your shin bone.  Any problems in this area can be treated by Bowen and kept supple with these exercises.

Toe Taps: In a seated position, heels on the floor, tap your toes as fast as you can for as long as you can.  You can add a weight or beanbag to take this exercise further.

Knee Lifts:  Kneel on all fours and lift one knee with your foot flat on the ground and hold for 10 seconds, repeat the other side.

For a video explaining these exercises follow this Youtube link.

NB:  Fascia or myofascia is a web type substance that surrounds and goes through our muscles, ligaments and tendons.  In fact all the body’s tissues contain fascia, likened to sausage skin or if you split an orange segment you can see the pockets of juice contained in a thin skin much like a cross section of a muscle.  This network is our connective tissue that holds us together, resent research has proved we need to be working on the fascia for pain and injury not the muscle.  For a more detailed explanation on fascia follow this link to Wikipedia.

Written by Maxine Crinall.

If you would like to find out more about how Bowen can help you call Mary Lou on 07501 017195.


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