5 Simple Exercises for Strengthening the Ankles
These 5 ankle exercises will help you keep your ankles in shape, helping stabilize the joint and prevent injury.
The ankles are one of the most important joints in the body. They absorb much of the impact during activities like running or walking, and as a result these joints are very prone to injury. The following exercises were designed to help rebuild muscles around the joint in order to help promote general strength and stability in the ankle. These exercises will also work to help rebuild muscle and regain normal function after a minor injury like a sprain or strain.
This is perhaps the simplest exercise. Find a place to sit, and rest your legs in such a way that the feet hang free. Rotate your feet as if you were drawing a circle in the air. Do this for 30 seconds to a minute, then switch and rotate the other direction. Repeat 5 times. This exercise also works to stretch the ligaments and tissues in the muscle and get them warmed up for exercise. To increase difficulty, wear a heavy pair of shoes or use a resistance band.
For this exercise you will need a resistance band. Place your foot in the band and push down trying to just use the ankle muscles. Reverse the direction of the band and try to pull your foot towards you using only the ankle muscles. This is exercising the parts of the ankle responsible for dorsiflexion and extension. Pull towards you and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then rest for one minute and switch. Repeat 5 times. To increase difficulty, fold the band over itself or use two bands together.
Household Objects Exercise
You will need to find a heavy object like a couch or wall for this one. Have a seat on the floor, then place the foot on the object as if you were to push it. Try to move the object with only your ankle muscles. Repeat 10 times. Alternatively, find a heavy book and place it on top of the foot. Raise the book using only your ankle muscles, repeat 10 times. To increase difficulty, simply find heavier objects to work with.
Stand on one leg
This exercise is quick and easy. Simply stand on one leg for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then switch. The act of balancing triggers muscles in the ankle to activate to help keep you stable. To increase difficulty slightly, try doing half squats on one leg.
One Leg Directional Hops
This one is modified from the previous exercise. While you're standing on one leg, hop forwards, then backwards on that same leg. Remember, you're not trying to jump far - just a little hop will do. Repeat 5 times then switch and continue for 5 sets. To increase difficulty here, try hopping diagonally and also side to side for one set.
Always remember to consult with your doctor to ensure that exercises like this are safe for your body and ankles. If any of these exercises are too easy for you, you can simply modify them with more weight - for example, if you find one leg hops to be too simple, try wearing a backpack with some books in it. Don't increase the difficulty too quickly, as you could possibly injure yourself if you overdo it. The goal is to strengthen your ankles, not hurt them!