Injury-Proof Your Feet With These 5 Exercises

Every trail runner knows that our feet and ankles work a lot harder on the trail than on the road. Running over uneven terrain including rocky and slippery downhills requires your feet and ankles to flex, roll and stabilize to keep you from falling or spraining an ankle. Stronger feet will boost your trail performance and decrease your risk of foot and ankle injuries.

By including prehab foot and ankle exercises into your strength training regime you will improve your coordination on the trails, minimizing your risk of ankle sprains and falls. In addition, stronger feet and ankles will also decrease your risk of overuse injuries, for example, the dreaded plantar fasciopathy (fasciitis) and Achilles tendinopathy. Lastly, better foot and ankle strength will improve your coordination allowing you to fly over technical trails.


We put together an easy 5-exercise regime that will help you build injury-proof feet and ankles.


  1. Toe Yoga


  • Stand on a firm surface with your feet flat.
  • Lift the big toe, while keeping the other toes on the floor.
  • Then lift the other 4 toes while pushing down into the floor with the big toe.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10.


  1. Towel Crunches

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  • Sit with your feet on a towel that is spread out on a smooth surface.
  • Scrunch the towel with your toes, keeping your heels down.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 with each foot.
  • Make the exercise harder by placing a weight on the edge of the towel.


  1. Eccentric Heel Drop

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  • Stand on the edge of a step. Hold onto a bar or wall for balance.
  • Push up onto your toes with both feet.
  • Transfer you weight onto one leg; now slowly lower your heel over the edge of the step.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 with each leg.
  • Progress the exercise by adding load, for example a weighted backpack.


  1. Theraband Inversions and Eversions

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  • Sit on a chair; place a resistance band around your forefoot.
  • Inversions: Rotate your foot in against the theraband, feeling the muscles on the inside of your ankle and lower leg working.
  • Eversions: Rotate your foot out, feeling the muscles on the outside of your ankle and lower leg working.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 with each foot.


  1. Single Leg Balance

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  • Balance barefoot on a balance mat, bosu ball or pillow.
  • Make the exercise harder by hopping on, finding your centre of balance before hopping off again.


Make sure to take care of your feet so they can withstand the loads imposed by hours on the trails.

Bonus tip: for stronger and healthier feet also walk barefoot as much as possible!

by Tarrin van Niekerk