Ankles form the base of the whole body, where the foot bone and lower leg bone meet, bearing the whole body weight. Various bones, ligaments, and tendons work together to get us stable and moving.
A flexible ankle helps to move, rotate, point, and turn our feet without any pain. So we need to take care of our ankles properly to strengthen weak ankles, get rid of ankle sprains and ankle pain, and recover from ankle injuries.
In short, doing this ankle-strengthening exercise is helpful to keep your feet and legs in shape and beautiful looking so that you can even take some nice feet pics!
Risks of Affected Leg
An ankle sprain is common among all people. People who are born with weak ankles have more risk of getting ankle injury due to instability of weak ankles while walking or even while standing. Sore ankles and pain are common symptoms.
Some peoples always have pain in the ankle joint. Stiff ankles cause pain in joints where the muscles, ligaments, and tendons are so stiff and cause pain whenever there is movement.
Tight ankles are caused due to ankle sprain or any previous ankle injuries, bone fragments, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or any other medical conditions. People with tight ankles find it difficult to bend or stretch their feet up and down.
It affects walking with their feet straight or while climbing. If an ankle injury is left untreated or the injured foot is not rehabilitated properly, it may lead to chronic ankle instability.
It is always better to consult a physical therapist and get physical therapy or take an ankle conditioning program.
Benefits of Ankle Strengthening Exercises
- Strengthening the ankle muscles and joints can absorb more pressure, thus preventing injuries.
- Stability can be achieved through ankle strengthening exercises that prevent falling and collapsing due to weak ankles.
- Reduce the foot and ankle pain and restore the already injured ankle.
- Degenerative bone disease can be prevented by strengthening the ankle muscles and increasing bone density.
1. Single-Leg Balance Exercises
These simple ankle strengthening exercises are a set of balancing exercises and are performed in a standing position. It involves balancing with a single leg.
1.1. Feet Flat on the Floor
It is a simple and basic but super effective exercise all can do easily. Balancing is achieved through regular practice:
- Stand with one leg straight, your foot flat on the floor, and lift the other leg slightly above the ground.
- Hold this position for about a minute. Continuous practice will help to stay still.
- Switch legs and repeat the exercise.
- Repeat 5 times for each leg.
1.2. Standing Heel Raise
This exercise involves raising your heels. Initially, you can make use of a stick to support balance; later, this exercise can be performed without support.
- Stand with one foot straight on the floor and the other slightly above the ground.
- Now lift the heel slowly and count to six.
- Slowly keep the heel low back to the floor.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- You can repeat it 5 times for each leg.
1.3. Leg Swing
The leg swing exercise involves balancing one leg and swinging the other leg. You can make use of a stable surface for support at initial practice later can be done without any support.
- Stand straight with one foot on the floor.
- Raise the other leg slightly above the ground.
- Slowly swing the leg back and forth 5 times, and swing sideways 5 times.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- Do this 3 times for each leg.
1.4. Beam Balance
This exercise challenges every single muscle. It involves a lower beam for balancing. You can make them with PVC pipes or make use of the readily available ones. Beam with lower heights is preferred to avoid injuries.
- Stand straight on the beam.
- Place one foot straight and lift the other foot slightly above the beam.
- Hold this position for about a minute.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- Continue 5 times for each leg.
2. Walking Exercises
This simple exercise is all about walking with heel rise. All you need to do is just raise your heels and walk as much as you can whenever possible. You can perform this anytime you like.
The next level of this exercise is climbing the stairs. Use only the forefoot while climbing the steps and heels suspended. This exercise helps to strengthen the foot arch to help absorb more shock.
3. Range of Motion Exercises
This range of motion exercise will strengthen ankle joints and keep your ankles strong.
3.1. Stretching feet
This exercise involves sitting straight on the floor. Make sure you do not bend your knee while doing the exercises.
- Sit on the floor, keeping your legs straight, stretching outwards and 1 inch apart.
- Stretch the feet inwards, so the big toes point towards each other.
- Hold this position and count to five. Slowly return to the original position.
- Stretch the feet outwards so that the big toes are pointed on opposite sides.
- Hold this position, count five, and return slowly to the original position.
- Repeat this set of exercises 3 times.
3.2. Rotating Feet
This sitting exercise is similar to the above one, where you will carefully rotate your feet.
- Sit straight on the floor, keeping your legs straight, stretching outwards and an inch apart.
- Slowly rotate both feet in a clockwise direction 3 times and rest.
- Next is to rotate both feet in an anticlockwise direction 3 times and rest.
- Repeat this set of exercises 3 times.
- Do not bend your knee, and perform this exercise with your back straight.
4. Stretching Exercise
4.1. Towel stretch
This towel stretching exercise involves sitting straight on the floor and a towel to stretch the muscles. It is a real challenge to the foot, ankle and back knee as it builds pressure on it.
- Sit on the floor with legs straight outwards.
- Wrap the towel around the back foot of anyone’s leg (say right leg) and hold the towel edges.
- Gently pull the towel to you so that the toe bends slightly inwards.
- Hold this posture for 15 seconds, return to the starting position, and rest.
- Repeat the same for another leg.
- Do this exercise 3 times.
Tip: The holding position can be increased according to your practice. While doing this exercise, make sure to straighten your back and knees slightly bent.
4.2. Band Stretch
A resistance band is needed to perform these ankle-strengthening exercises. In this, you do not move your feet on your own rather it is moved with the help of the band.
- Sit straight on the floor with a leg stretched outwards.
- Wrap the resistance band around the back of anyone’s foot and hold the edges firmly on your hand.
- Now pull the band to one side, hold the position for 10 seconds, and release slowly.
- Pull the other end of the band, hold for 10 seconds, and release.
- Repeat 3 times and rest.
- The same is done with the other leg.
- Holding a position can be increased after several practices.
5. Ankle Alphabet
It is also a sitting exercise done for ankle strength and involves concentrating on your toes.
- Sit straight on the floor folding your one leg and the other leg extended outwards.
- Place a pillow or any support under the calf muscles so that the foot is slightly suspended above the ground.
- Using the big toe, draw the alphabet A in the air.
- Draw several times and feel the ankle muscles stretching.
- Repeat the same for another toe.
6. Golf Ball
This ankle strengthening exercise needs a golf ball and a chair. It will stretch your feet and ankle muscles.
- Sit with your back straight on the chair.
- Place a golf ball or any other ball of the same size or small size under one foot.
- Move your feet front and back slowly and feel the ball moving along.
- Do it for a minute.
- Repeat the same with the other foot.
- You can do it 3 times for each foot.
7. Wooble Board Exercises
This wobble board exercise is common among ankle strengthening exercises and for a sprained ankle.
- Stand straight and place one leg on the wobble board.
- Hold on to a stable surface for support.
- Now move the board left and right so that it touches the ground.
- Repeat a few times and try the same for another leg.
It is important to practice ankle strengthening exercises regularly and incorporate them into day-to-day life. Besides ankle exercises and other stretching exercises and taking healthy food is necessary to have a healthy body; as the saying goes, “Health is Wealth”.
Ankle strengthening exercises not only strengthen us but also help us recover from previous injuries and prevent us from getting one.
Usually, ankle pain gets better through ankle strengthening exercises, home treatment, and rest.
However, suppose you have any pain while doing exercise or severe injury in the ankle like extreme bruising or swelling, hard to bear bodyweight, collapsing on standing any medical condition. For that, it is a must to take professional medical advice.
(Also, read: Restorative Yoga: It’s Magic and 10 Benefits)
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Physiotherapy will work to initially reduce inflammation through the ankle before restoring range of motion and muscle function. A key component to recovering from an ankle sprain includes regaining balance and proprioception.
- Getting deep tissue massage on your feet, calves and legs are very effective at reducing ankle & foot pain and improving flexibility. Reducing pain in order to increase your movement is the most important thing when you have ankle & foot pain and a sports massage is a great way to help.