Foot and Ankle Mobility Range of Motion – Happy Feet Stack Blocks

The following is part of my ebook: How To Run For Your Life Pain Free With No Compensations.

Benefits – Range Of Motion Exercises.

Happy Feet Stack Blocks are designed to increase range of motion to your ankle joint and are used for lower leg muscle stretches and strengthening of the foot/ankle complex.

The more your ankle is able to absorb changing terrain under foot the less chance there is of injuries traveling up the kinetic chain to your knees, hips, low back and neck. It is possible to reduce knee, hip, low back and neck pain simply by increasing ankle range of motion and strengthening to within normal limits. Increased flexibility and strengthening of your ankle joint will help reduce loss of balance on uneven ground.

How To Use Happy Feet Stack Blocks.

When using the blocks for stretching, choose a single block or combination of thickness to suit your individual requirement. Body posture is important and is aimed at reducing compensations whilst increasing ankle range of motion. Stand tall, do not flex at the knees or hips. Wear socks to reduce any discomfort on block’s eased edges if necessary.

The three blocks can be used individually or stacked in two’s or three’s to give thickness ranges from ¼” to approx 1¾” in ¼” increments. The smallest block is ¼”, middle block is ½” and biggest block is 1” thick.  Keep blocks dry.

When stacking the blocks make sure the raised step is securely fitted into the groove in the block underneath, this will stop the blocks from sliding edge-ways. Use rubber bands as supplied to stop blocks from sliding length-ways and on hard floors.

Disclaimer:  If it hurts, don’t do it. You are in control of your own actions.

Ankle Stretch (Dorsiflexion) Stretch 1

Side View

 Place ball of feet onto blocks.Toes and knees point forwards.Center of knees over big and second toe space.Press heels down to floor.Stand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.

Feel stretch in calf muscles (Gastrocnemius)

Hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Note: If stretch is too extreme reduce block thickness.

Ankle Stretch (Dorsiflexion) Stretch 2

Front View

 Same set up as above.Press heels down to floor.Flex at knees, no flexing at hips.Feel stretch in deeper calf muscles (Soleus).Hold stretch for 30 seconds.Note: If stretch is too extreme reduce block thickness.

If no stretch is felt at 1¾” thickness then assume you have achieved normal range of motion limits.

Ankle Extension (Plantar flexion) Stretch 3

  Place heels on blocks.Toes and knees point forwards.Center of knees over big and second toe space.Press ball of foot down to floor.Stand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.Feel stretch in front of leg near shin bone (Tibialis Anterior).Hold stretch for 30 seconds.Note: Most people have no problem with this stretch because their bed sheets press their feet down into this position every night when sleeping on the back

Ankle Inversion Stretch 4

  Place inside edge of heels on floor against outside edge of blocks.Place big toes onto topside of blocks.Keep knees pointing forwards and do not allow them to spread apart.Keep outside edges of feet in full contact with floor.Stand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.Feel stretch in outside (lateral) leg muscles (Peroneus Longus).Hold stretch for 30 seconds.Note: Try and squeeze the knees together.

Ankle Eversion Stretch 5.

  Place outside edge of heel on floor against edge of block.Place little toe and outside edge of rest of foot on top surface of block.Keep inside edge of foot in full contact with floor.Start with knee pointing forward and over big and second toe space.Stand tall, no flexing at knee or hip. Soft knee.Support your balance on the other leg if necessary.Now move your knee laterally over the block to increase ankle range of motion.Hold position for 30 seconds.Note: This can be difficult and painful on the outside edge of the foot especially if using too much block thickness. Wear socks or soft slippers.

Plantar Fascitis Stretch Stretch 6.

  Place feet over blocks so that heels and toes are on the floor.Toes and knees point forwards.Center of knees over big and second toe spaceStand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.Feel stretch in bottom of feet (plantar surfaces).Hold stretch for 30 seconds.Note: Increase the benefit by gently rocking back and forth on the blocks.

Heel Raise – Strengthening Exercise.

   Important: You may need to be near a wall or holding on to the back of a chair, especially if raising both heels at once, to stop from falling forwards.Stand with ball of foot on blocks.Toes and knees point forwards.Center of knees over big and second toe space.Stand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.Raise heels as high as possible off the floor.Hold for 30 secondsNote: Easier and safer if raising one heel at a time or alternating feet.

Toe Raise –  strengthening exercise.

   Important: You may need to be near a wall or holding on to the back of a chair, especially if raising both feet at once, to stop from falling backwards.Stand with heels on blocks.Toes and knees point forwards.Center of knees over big and second toe space.Stand tall, no flexing at knees or hips. Soft knees.Raise toes and feet as high as possible off the floor.Hold for 30 secondsNote: Easier and safer if raising one foot at a time or alternating feet.

Single Leg Balance Exercise.

  Important: You may need to be near a wall for support. Choose one block.Place one foot length-wise on the block.Center the heel and the forefoot on the block.Toes and knee point forward.Center of knee over big and second toe space.Stand tall, no flexing at knee or hips. Soft knees. Hands on hips.Lift other foot off the floor just enough without tilting hips.Hold balance for 30 seconds.

Repeat on other foot.

Note: Try to keep the free leg and upper body as still as possible and use as little support from the wall as possible for maximum benefit. Free foot can tap down to re-establish balance. Start with grooved surface down.

Single Leg Balance Reach Exercise.

Start with single leg balance procedure above.

When balance is established move straightened free leg forward.

Hold position for 2-4 seconds.

Return to start position. Hold 2-4 seconds.

Move straightened free leg out to the side. Hold for 2-4 seconds.

Return to start position. Hold for 2-4 seconds.

Move straightened free leg backwards. Hold for 2-4 seconds.

Return to start position. Hold for 2-4 seconds.

Repeat on other foot.

 Note: Keep upper body still. No compensations.

30 second SMR (Self Myofascial Release) using Happy Feet Stack Blocks.

SMR is a method of applying tension to a specific zone of a muscle where there is a tender spot, adhesion or hyper-tonicity for 30 seconds to allow muscle fibers to lengthen and relax.

Basic Method of Use.

Happy Feet Stack Blocks can be used grouped or used individually to suit your requirement.

The photos below show all 3 blocks grouped and held together with rubber bands to prevent slippage on hard floors.

The blocks can be used wide face up or on edge.

For the least amount of pressure use the blocks wide face up.

For the most amount of pressure use 3, 2 or 1 block on edge.

1) SMR to calf muscles.(Gastrocnemius and Soleus).Sit on floor with legs outstretched.

Put one lower leg onto the blocks.

Toes point up to ceiling.

Locate the tender area/adhesion.

(Roll foot slightly in or out to see if it’s more tender somewhere else).

Keep foot neutrally flexed.

Raise heel off floor.

Keep other foot on the floor.

Hold position for 30 seconds.

For more pressure, cross your free leg over at the ankle.

For maximum pressure now raise your buttocks off the ground so your entire body weight is supported on both your hands and the one calf muscle.

Note: Tighten your abdomen.

2) SMR to lateral lower leg.(Peroneus Longus).Lay on side keeping upper hip directly above the lower one.

The foot is parallel to the floor and in a neutrally flexed position.

Find the most tender area/adhesion.

Keep foot up off the floor.

Free leg can cross over forwards for better balance.

Hold for 30 seconds.

For more pressure put your free leg directly on top.

For maximum pressure now raise hip off the ground by supporting yourself on your elbow. The other hand can also be used for balance.

Note: Tighten your abdomen and keep your neck in a neutral position

3) SMR to anterior leg.(Tibialis Anterior).Lay on side but roll chest and upper hip towards the floor slightly.

(Do not roll on to the Tibia  or shin bone. It will hurt) !!!

Toes are pointing obliquely towards floor and foot is neutrally flexed.

Find the most tender area/adhesion.

Keep foot up off the floor.

Free leg can cross over forwards for better balance.

Hold for 30 seconds.

For more pressure put your free leg obliquely on top.

For maximum pressure now raise the hip off the ground by supporting yourself on your elbow. The other hand can also be used for balance.

Note: Tighten your abdomen and keep your neck in a neutral position.

 4) SMR to ilio-tibial band (IT band).Similar to (2) above but on the lateral thigh. Top leg can be swung forwards for balance.  5) SMR to glutes and lateral rotators.(Gluteus Maximus, Medius, Minimus and Piriformis & Gemellus Superior).Sit on the blocks with one foot on top of the other knee.

Draw the straightened leg towards your chest.

Lean towards the side away from the foot on the floor.

Support yourself with your hands.

Search for the most tender spot.

Hold for 30 seconds.

CAUTION:  DO NOT USE blocks when numbness and tingling exist,  if on blood thinners or over varicose veins