Guide to Paediatric Lower Limb Strengthening

A Podiatrist’s treatment plan frequently focuses on lower limb strengthening to help either rehabilitate or prevent an injury, particularly the case with our active kids.

During times where their bodies are rapidly changing, larger demands are often placed on the softer tissue structures (i.e. muscles, ligaments & tendons) which can be reason for a consultation with the Podiatry Sports & Spinal team.

 

Working down the lower limb, typical pain or fatigue complaints with our paediatric patients include:

  • Calf complex (gastrocnemius & soleus)
  • Peroneal and lateral stabilising muscles
  • Tibialis posterior muscles
  • Muscles beneath the medial longitudinal arch (foot intrinsics)

The beginning of school is a great time for kids to be active and get stronger through their legs! Below are four beginner exercises you can do at home with next to no equipment, and a few little pointers:

Calf Raises (3 sets of 8 reps) – done either single (harder) or double leg (easier)

  1. With even weight on one/both feet, stand within touching distance of a wall for balance
  2. Using a controlled tempo, rise up with even pressure across the forefoot
  3. After a small hold, lower the heel back down just off the floor and repeat this process for the required number of reps

There are a few important tips with technique on this exercise:

  • Start by slightly loading the outside of the foot before each repetition (but not excessive roll out)
  • Use slight knee bend, preventing hyperextension through the exercises & favourably loading soleus & foot intrinsics
  • Use only finger-tip pressure on a wall for balance, stopping too much forward lean
  • Focus pressure at the top on being through the front of the foot (big toe & associated joint

Walking variations (2 lengths each)

Set out a hallway or space about 10 metres long that is free from obstacles. With 4 different conditions, do each variation up & back using only:

  • Heels touching the floor
  • Forefoot touching the floor
  • Inside edge of the feet touching the floor
  • Outside edge of the feet touching the floor

Marble/Toy Pick-Ups

Using a set of marbles & container or small toys & their box, the idea is to place each toy back in their container using only our feet. The smaller the toy, the better!

  1. Calf Stretching (3 sets of 30-45 second holds)
  2. Stand within touching distance of a wall with shoulders, hips and feet square to the wall
  3. Take a step back with one foot, keeping both feet facing forward
  4. Push forward through the hips, stretching the back leg
  5. Hold this position and change legs & repeat

There are a few important tips with technique on this exercise:

  • Both feet & hips facing towards the wall through the stretch
  • Pushing forward with the hips rather than leaning forward through the upper body
  • Bending the back knee & shortening the stride provides a deeper stretch (favourably stretching soleus)

 

 

Written By Sports and Spinal Podiatrist, Dylan McDonald

Dylan graduated from the Queensland University of Technology as a Podiatrist, following earlier studies in Exercise and Nutrition Science (Hons.) at the University of Queensland. He continually expands on his knowledge and skills to keep up-to-date with the developing science behind lower limb conditions and injuries.

Whilst Dylan has a special interest in sports and biomechanical podiatry (including paediatric patients), he has experience treating all aspects of general lower limb and foot care. Dylan utilises biomechanical assessments, gait/movement analysis, orthotic therapy, footwear assessment and recommendations, dry needling and general/diabetic screenings to get the best outcomes for his clients. He has a unique skillset in foot mobilisation and manipulation which has formed part of his continuing clinical expertise.

He has a unique skillset in foot mobilisation and manipulation which has formed part of his continuing clinical expertise.

Dylan is available for Podiatry appointments at our St LuciaWoolloongabba and Springfield locations.