3 Easy Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankles

Are you having problems with balance and mobility as you get older? Do your feet seem to hurt more each day? It could be a sign of weak ankles. As you move throughout the day, the joints in your ankle and surrounding muscles quickly absorb a lot of force. You can build strength in your ankle muscles and ligaments to prevent injury and improve performance.

Why should you pay more attention to your ankles?

Biomechanically, if you change at the base—your feet and ankles—you’re going to affect the rest of your joints up the chain, mainly your knees and hips. One of the biggest things we worry about with a weak base is the effect it has on your knees and how much internal rotation it is putting into the hip. If you’re deficient at the bottom, the joints and muscles in your knees and hips could become weaker. This can cause your gait patterns to change making it more difficult for you to walk.

How to help keep your foundation strong

Weak ankles tend to sprain more easily. Thousands of people every year sprain their ankle by stepping off a curb, tripping in heels, or twisting it while running. Wearing the right footwear may help prevent an ankle injury or sprain. If you’re a runner, go to a running visit a running store to get properly assessed and fitted. If you’re on your feet most of the day for work, consider shoes with a cushioned sole. 

Doing daily ankle exercises can also help. It can improve your lower body strength and your ability to have better balance. Here are three exercises you can do anytime, anywhere. It just takes 5 minutes a day.

1. Draw the alphabet

This one is a simple as A, B, C. You can perform this by laying on your back and lifting one leg in the air. You can also do this by standing on one leg. (You can use a sturdy chair for support.) Lift your leg and draw the alphabet with your toes as your foot is flexed. Then repeat with the other leg.

  • Repeat:           1 time
  • Complete:       1 set
  • Perform:          Once a day

2. Standing calf raises 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you can, try this by standing on the edge of a step. Lift as high as you can onto your toes and lower your heels down.

  • Repeat:           10 times
  • Complete:       1 set
  • Perform:          Once a day

3. Flexing and stretching 

Lay on your back with your feet in a vertical position, so your toes are pointed towards the ceiling. Gradually point your toes away from you as far as possible and hold.

  • Repeat:            10 times
  • Hold:                3 seconds
  • Complete:        1 set
  • Perform:           Once a day

Work with your doctor

While anyone can do these exercises anywhere, we still recommend talking to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you’re overweight. Being overweight could lead to weak ankles. The heavier you are the more stress you place on your hips, knees and ankles—it runs down the chain.

But weak ankles could also be a sign of other serious problems. For instance, if you do have balance issues, it might not be the result of bad ankles. You could have a serious, neurological disorder. So get checked out first. If you have a clean bill of health, take the time to do these easy exercises every day. They can help you with good balance and posture for the long-term.

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