This article from 2013 was lightly edited and updated for new resources in 2020. If you're interested in feet, check out Our Favorite Feet, Footwear, and Walking Resources.
I was the expert for this Livestrong article: 12 Easy Anytime Moves to Strengthen the Feet and Ankles. I'm especially proud of the pillow walking. I was asked to modify my "texture/rock" walking recommendation so that people could do the entire program at home. THE PILLOW WALKING IS COOL, RIGHT? TELL ME IT'S NOT LAME!
The article is very user-friendly and full of stuff to try but per usual I'd like to make a few adjustments to how it was written up and photographed, i.e. the stuff that is out of my hands in the post-writing editorial process, as all I get to do is create the moves).
Gastroc Calf Stretch
During the gastroc Calf Stretch, the front knee should not be bent. Both legs should be straight like this:
It's ok if the front knee bends a little with the back knee (see the soleus stretch in the article) but to a lesser degree than what is pictured.
The “Wheelies” are not an exercise created by me; I forwarded the writer a the link to Yoga Tune Up®'s Jill Miller’s video demo. I'd like to give Jill a shout out here! You should do some Wheelies right now, in your living room.
Below is a general tutorial on "standing on a single leg" exercises for both the article as well as anything else you do one-legged. You can read more at Why and How to Pelvic List.
When I recommend standing on one foot for the purpose of ankle strengthening, I recommend standing on one leg with two fully extended knees. You can do the one in the article that has the front knee bent as long as you are actually listing with the standing leg. But the move is even more effective if you keep both legs straight.
Isn't all single-leg standing the same?
No. For our exercises we're trying to integrate hip action with ankle motion, so the more you bend the knee, the less the hip can do and the more the knee has to do.
We have a hard time not bending our knees and flexing our hip when we stand on one leg because bending our knees and flexing the hip are what sitting is made of, and sitting is the most-frequent position we put ourselves in. We keep defaulting back to what is comfortable (knee flexion/hip flexion) when we do everything (like walk, exercise, stand on one leg...). It is the sitting and the chronic knee-hip flexion that sitting comes with that can lead us to weak lateral hips in the first place—a weakness that knocks the ankle (and knee) off its axis in three different planes (see "schmear" in Whole Body Barefoot).
So, anyway, I just wanted to share a cool article with you. And, P.S. I hope you enjoyed the five takes of the listing video. I think it's HILARIOUS when you guys comment that you're shocked at my kids being stressed or me being frazzled. Please do not confuse my love for geometry with a love for perfection. Those are two entirely different things. We live in well-aligned, well-loved, joyful disarray here most of the time which makes us humans so very the same—a symmetry I'm most appreciative of.
If you want in-depth exercise instruction on your feet, knees and hips, check out Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief, Whole Body Barefoot, and our video course Whole Body Biomechanics: Feet, Knees and Hips.