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Each of your feet relies on the 28 bones and 25 joints of the foot and ankle complex for stability and mobility in day-to-day movements. The seated ankle pump serves as a simple stretch to relieve tension in this essential area. In addition to improving flexibility, this exercise comes recommended as a pre- and postsurgery stretch and a method for preventing blood clots for those who suffer from deep vein thrombosis.
Sit in a chair with your back straight and legs extended and spread slightly apart. Begin with your toes pointed up, so the soles of your feet are flat. Point your toes downward, as though pressing down on the gas pedal of a car, and hold for a count. Return to the starting position, as though letting up on the gas. This completes one repetition of the stretch.
In Your Regimen
The DeKalb Medical Center of Decatur, Georgia recommends performing seated ankle pumps 20 times on each foot twice daily before or after ankle-related surgery. You can also perform the exercise any time you feel tension in this region, or once per hour if you'll be sitting for an extended period of time and suffer from deep vein thrombosis. You can move both feet at once, rotate your feet, or do one foot at time. If you've undergone or plan to undergo ankle-related surgery or suffer from any foot-related issues, consult your doctor before incorporating seated ankle pumps into your stretching regimen.
Benefits and Tips
Seated ankle pumps improve blood flow and circulation, which helps prevent blood clotting. This stretch also serves as a method of increasing your range of motion in the foot. In addition to the seated version, you can perform ankle pumps while lying down. Simply begin in the supine position with your heels resting flat and toes pointed up and perform the same pumping motion as the seated variation. Keep your knees and legs still while performing seated or lying ankle pumps.
The ankle alphabet, which involves tracing out each letter of the alphabet with your feet and ankles while keeping your legs, hips and knees still, also helps encourage circulation and increase your range of motion. Ankle inversion and eversion does as well; for this stretch, keep your toes pointed up and move your feet from side to side. Ankle circles, which require you to make circles with your foot in a clockwise motion followed by a counterclockwise motion, serve as another alternative to ankle pumps.