Ankle strengthening exercises are essential for preventing ankle injuries, including sprains, twists, and inflammation, especially for those who engage in high-impact activities such as running, jumping, or sports. Some exercises you can easily do at home include:

  • Ankle circles
  • Heel raises
  • Toe raises
  • Resistance band exercises
  • Balance exercises

What Causes Ankle Injury?

Common ankle injuries include ankle sprains, twists, and broken ankles. These injuries either happen because your ankles have become weaker due to aging or wear-and-tear, or direct trauma.

The most common causes of ankle injuries include:

  • Direct impact: Say you fell off the stairs. Direct physical trauma is one of the main causes of ankle injuries and sometimes requires medical attention.
  • Improper use: Turning
  • Arthritis: a condition where the joints become inflamed and stiff, which can cause pain and limited mobility
  • Overuse: repetitive motions or activities can strain the ankle. Running, jumping, or prolonged standing and walking can all lead to ankle injuries.

Read More: 5 Common Foot and Ankle Injuries

Ankle Circles

Ankle circles can improve ankle flexibility and mobility. Here are the simple steps to do ankle circles properly:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground and point your toes forward.
  3. Begin to move your foot in a circular motion, rotating your ankle clockwise.
  4. Complete 10-15 rotations in one direction, then switch and rotate your ankle counterclockwise for 10-15 repetitions.
  5. Repeat the exercise with the other foot.

Heel Raises

Heel raises, also known as calf raises, is a great calf and ankle strengthening exercise to do at home:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  2. Keep your body aligned and engage your core to engage.
  3. Slowly lift your heels off the ground, rising onto the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your heels back down to the ground.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

For a greater challenge, hold a light weight in each hand or do the exercise on a step, allowing your heels to drop lower than the balls of your feet before lifting back up.

Toe Raises

Toe raises can strengthen the muscles in your toes and the front of your foot and therefore reduce the risk of ankle injuries. To do a toe raise, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift the toes of one foot off the ground, curling them towards the sole of your foot.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then release and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
  4. Repeat the exercise with the other foot.
  5. For a greater challenge, place a small towel or cloth on the floor and use your toes to grip and lift the cloth off the ground.

Make sure to keep your foot and ankle relaxed during the exercise.

Resistance Band Exercises

You can find a resistance band for cheap online or from a large retailer. This small investment will open up possibilities for many ankle-strengthening exercises:

  • Ankle dorsiflexion: Sit on a chair with a resistance band looped around the ball of your foot. Flex your foot back towards your shin. Release and repeat.
  • Ankle eversion: Loop a resistance band around the outside of your foot and anchor the other end to a sturdy object. Rotate your foot outward. Release and repeat.
  • Ankle inversion: Loop a resistance band around the inside of your foot and anchor the other end to a sturdy object. Rotate your foot inward. Release and repeat.
  • Lateral band walk: Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step to the side, then bring your other foot in to meet it. Repeat 10-15 times in one direction, then switch and repeat in the other direction.

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises can help improve ankle strength, stability, and proprioception, meaning your body becomes more aware of its position and movement. Here are a few balance exercises to build strong ankles:

  • Single-leg balance: Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent and your foot flat on the ground. 30 seconds to one minute on eeach leg.
  • Single-leg toe raise: Stand on one leg and rise onto the balls of your foot, holding the position for a few seconds. Lower your heel back down to the ground.
  • Clock reach: Stand on one leg. Picture a clock face on the ground in front of you. Reach your foot out to touch each number on the clock clockwise. Repeat 10-15 rounds. Switch to the other leg.
  • Single-leg squats: Stand on one leg and lower into a squat, keeping your knee in line with your toes. Hold the position for a few seconds, then rise back up.

Read More: 5 Exercises to Build Leg Muscles at Home

Giving Yourself an Ankle Massage

Massaging your ankles isn’t too difficult. Start by sitting in a comfortable position with your feet elevated. Apply massage oil or lotion on your hands and rub them together to warm them up.

Place your hands on your ankle and apply firm pressure from top to bottom from either side with your thumbs. Rub in circular motions and apply more pressure as needed.

Don’t forget to Achilles tendon. Move your fingers in a circular motion along the tendon, applying firm pressure to help release tension and improve circulation. Finally, finish your massage session by gently stretching your ankle, rotating it in circles, and flexing your toes.

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