Your foot, ankle, and lower leg are all part of a complex lever system equipped with a network of muscles, nerves, and connective tissue that act as a pulley. When everything works as it should, you can easily lift your foot, allowing you to walk, run, and jump.
That is until you develop drop foot.
Drop foot (or foot drop) is a symptom of an underlying issue in your musculoskeletal system that results in difficulty lifting your foot. Simply put, the lever and pulley system fail, making getting around very difficult.
Drop foot often stems from compression on the peroneal nerve in your lower leg or from conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis that affect your nervous system.
The good news is that there are many options for treatment, and you could significantly improve or walk back your drop foot symptoms if you team up with our experts at US Neuropathy Centers.
We carefully evaluate what’s causing your foot to drag and create a treatment plan based on your specific needs. Often, all your dropped foot needs is some rehabilitation, so many of our treatment plans include exercises and stretches.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most basic ways to rehab your drooping foot.
1. The towel stretch
Grab a soft towel or exercise band and find a comfortable spot on the floor. If you can’t make it to the ground, try sitting on a chair and propping your foot on something sturdy. Loop the towel or band around your toes and hold the ends with your hands.
Slowly and gently pull toward you until you feel a stretch in your foot and lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
2. The toe to heel rock
Stand comfortably in front of a sturdy object, such as a table, chair, or wall. Carefully rock your weight forward and rise up on your toes. Hold the pose for five seconds, then shift your weight onto your heels, lifting your toes off the ground.
Hold that stretch for another five seconds before finding a neutral position. Repeat the stretch six times.
3. The marble pickup
Find a comfortable spot on your couch or your favorite chair with both your feet flat on the floor. Lay out a few marbles and a bowl in front of you, and use your toes to pick up a marble and place it in the bowl.
Keep going until you’ve picked up all the marbles, and repeat the process.
4. The ball lift
For this one, you need a small round object (about the size of a tennis ball). Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your object in front of you and squeeze it with your feet as you slowly extend your legs and lift it into the air.
Hold the object in the air for five seconds and then lower down. Repeat the process 10 times.
5. The flexions
Remember the towel or band you used for the first stretch? Get that out for these final exercises. Instead of stretching your legs and ankles, you’re going to give them a workout.
For ankle dorsiflexion, sit with your legs extended in front of you. Wrap your band or towel around your toes, and anchor the ends to a stable chair or table leg (or have a friend hold on to them). Slowly pull your toes toward you to strengthen the muscles in the front of your foot and lower leg.
For plantar flexion, reverse the process. Hold on to the end of the towel or band, and point your toes away from you to target the muscles in the bottom of your foot.
Repeat both exercises 10 times.
What else can I do?
There’s no substitute for the drop foot services we provide in our office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play an active role in your recovery. We recommend that you:
- Commit to your prescribed exercise and stretching regimen
- Wear any recommended braces or splints
- Keep your floors clear of clutter to avoid falls
Drop foot can be incredibly frustrating, but it doesn’t have to take you out for good. With prompt, targeted treatment, you could reverse the effects of this frustrating problem and find yourself right back in the swing of things.
If you’re bothered by drop foot and are looking for a path back to normal, call our friendly staff at 404-228-9892, or use our online tool to request an appointment at our Marietta, Georgia, office today.