Drop foot is a condition that causes a person to be unable to lift his foot and toes off the floor. It is most commonly caused by prolonged pressure on a spinal nerve in the lumber spine — low back — and can be reversed if treated early enough. Drop foot can also be caused by neurological conditions like a stroke, Parkinson's disease, diabetes or trauma to the peroneal nerve. In these cases, the damage is often permanent. Several exercises will strengthen the dorsiflexors — muscles that lift the foot off the floor — while you are recovering from drop foot.
Things You'll Need
- Flat sheet
- Elastic exercise band
Wear an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) at all times when walking. This brace is made of firm plastic and covers the bottom of your foot and comes up along the calf. It will hold your ankle in a neutral position and prevent you from tripping and catching your toes when you step forward. An AFO is prescribed by a doctor and fitted by a qualified healthcare provider.
Lay down on your back. Loop the sheet around your foot and hold either end in each hand. Pull your foot up toward your head and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets. This will stretch the ankle joint and tendons that need to be flexible to allow the muscles to move the ankle actively.
Lay down and keep the sheet around your foot. Use your muscles and assist with the sheet to pull your toes and foot to bend your ankle toward your head. Hold this position for 5 seconds.Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets. When this becomes easy, perform the same exercise without the assistance of the sheet.
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your toes and foot toward the ceiling while keeping your heel on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. Work up to three sets.
Fold the exercise band in half and tie a knot in the end of it. Open a door and place the knotted end through the door hinge close to the bottom; then, close the door. Sit on the floor and loop the band over the top of your foot. Pull toward your head until you feel resistance and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. When you can complete three sets in a row, move up to a higher resistance band or shorten the length of the current band to increase the difficulty.