Stand facing a wall with one foot as far away as possible (but allowing your knee to touch when it’s bent). You should feel this stretch in your ankle and lower-calf. As you improve, move your foot farther from the wall.
O’Connell says this exercise is particularly key. “Ankle strength is important for stability and this exercise will work on that.” Loop a long band around your foot, or anchor to a table or chair. Keeping your knee and hip stationary, move your foot outward and then inward 10 times each. Repeat for a total of three sets.
Not to be confused with calf raises (those come later), toe raises work on your toe dexterity and strength. Stand with your feet stable, arches raised and three points of contact with the ground: heel, big toe, and pinky toe. Staying otherwise still, raise just your big toe 10 times. Then, raise just your little toes 10 times as well, (keeping your big toe down). Then, raise all your toes and put them down one by one, starting with big toe, also 10 times.
Eccentric heel drops
Especially important for runners with Achilles issues, this exercise should be a staple. Stand on the edge of a stair so that your toes are on the step and your feet are dangling and hold on to a railing for support. Raise up on your tippy toes and slowly lower your heels below the stair level. Repeat for three sets of 10, doing so with your knees both bent and straight. Start double-legged and progress to single-leg.