When you don't strengthen and mobilize your feet and ankles, it'll lead to long-term problems:
- A weak foot arch can lead to inward ankle and knee caving.
- Poor ankle dorsiflexion can cause knees to collapse inward.
- Valgus collapse will allow you to gain access to greater squat depth as the tibia ducks inward to bypass restriction at the ankle. This is compounded by poor hip external rotation and a weak glute medius.
One of the best ways to strengthen the feet, calves, and ankles is by doing more single-leg exercises. Single-leg squats, split-squat variations, and single-leg deadlifts force the muscles in the feet and ankles to work harder as you balance on them.
You can turn up the challenge with this simple drill for stronger foot-arch muscles. This exercise is especially valuable to those with fallen arches or flat feet.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Pass
Stand on one leg with a kettlebell (easier to pass between hands than dumbbells) in one hand at your side. Slowly pass it in front of your body to the opposing hand while maintaining balance on only one foot.
Slowly bring the kettlebell to pause at the opposing hip, then reverse. Repeat for 4-6 passes for 2-3 sets on each leg. Progressing load matters less than improved control and balance.