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7 ankle strengthening exercises

ankle strengthening exercises
Learn how to strengthen your ankles in the comfort of your own home with these 7 easy exercises. Get working those ankle muscles and keep them strong and healthy.

If you are having stiffness in your ankles or calves, then the good news is that there are several exercises you can try  at home designed to help you move normally again.1

Ankle exercises can also provide you with the flexibility you need to prevent injury, like ankle sprains, and support muscles that keep you balanced while walking, hiking, or dancing. Strong ankle muscles also support your general mobility and your ability to walk properly, thereby preventing your knees and hip muscles from weakening.2

If you find that you’re having pain or discomfort in your ankle, you should always seek advice from a medical professional before trying any at-home exercises or remedies.

When you’ve got the all-clear to exercise your ankles, here are 7 that you can do in the comfort of your own home…

In this article: 7 ankle strengthening exercises | How to use a foam roller on your ankle | How circuit training could strengthen your ankles | The bottom line

7 at-home ankle strengthening exercises

Luckily, ankle exercises tend to be quite quick and simple and can be done at home or even on the train to work if it is not very crowded!

1. Foot raises

A foot raise involves sitting and placing your foot flat on the floor. Then, raise your big toe and the outer border of your foot, and hold it for two seconds.

Repeat by raising the outer border of your foot.3

 

2. Ankle bends

You can do ankle bends either sitting or lying down. They involve pointing your toes straight out, then bending your ankle back, and relaxing.4

 

3. Calf workouts

To do a standing calf stretch, stand and face a wall, then place your foot against the wall. Move your hips forward, and you should feel the stretch in your calf. Hold there for two seconds, then move your hips back away from the wall and relax, then repeat.5

 

4. Ankle stretches

To do ankle stretches, you are going to need to stand at arm’s length away from the wall and essentially do push-ups.

Keep your back straight and your heels on the floor. As you move towards the wall, you will feel the stretch in your calves. Hold for two seconds, then move back off the wall.

 

5. Tiptoe tense

For a tiptoe tense, stand behind a chair and hold on to the top of it, then raise yourself up so that you are standing on your tiptoes. Hold for five seconds.6

A flamingo tiptoe tense is a variation of this exercise, where you stand on just one leg with the other off the ground. The easiest thing to do is to hold the other foot against the back of your knee or calf, flamingo style.

 

6. Standing heel raise

A standing heel raise applies a similar principle as the above exercise but without the chair.

Stand with your feet wide apart and your knees bent. With your hands on your waist, raise one heel off the ground, put it down, and repeat with the other foot.7

 

7. Ankle rotations

Finally, ankle rotations and ankle pulls are both beneficial and feel great – a bit like a massage.

You can rotate your ankles in a circle while sitting, lying, or standing. Be sure to go both clockwise and anticlockwise. Then, to stretch your ankle, sit down and cross one leg over the other knee. Put your hand on your foot and pull your toes down gently.8

 
Using a foam roller on your ankle

One exercise you can try involves stretching with foam rollers. Ideally, this exercise should be done three times a day as it helps with releasing the tight myofascial tissue.9

Start off by sitting on the floor and putting a foam roller under your calf muscle. Then, push yourself up off the ground to apply pressure to the calf muscle. Roll back and forth slowly, making sure you roll the foam roller all the way down to your ankle.

You may find a tender spot, which is a knot or adhesion that has built up over years of training or exercising and that limits your mobility. This exercise helps you to break up those knots.10

Try to do this between 3 and 5 times, and for any knots, hold the roller in place for 30 seconds to a minute until the knot feels like it dissolves under the roller.

Using a foam roller on your ankle is a great way to alleviate muscle soreness, especially after exercise. But, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your ankle, you should always seek advice from a medical professional.

Circuit training to strengthen your ankles

Circuit training is somewhat like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercising because it involves high-intensity movements. It typically involves endurance training, resistance training, aerobics and circuits or sets of exercises.

You can do ankle exercises as one of these sets, using a resistance band.

Sitting on the floor, rotate your ankle within the band while it is stretched out and hooked onto something else, like the leg of a table. Then, sit on a chair or bench, put the band around both feet and rotate them both away from each other. Two sets of twenty repetitions are plenty for this exercise.11 

For more information, check out our 4 top tips to help stiff joints

The bottom line

Keeping your ankle muscles strong and healthy is so important for everyday life, as they are key for helping you move and to help prevent sprains and strains. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or not; exercising your ankles can help to keep you balanced and stable.

It is always a good idea to check with a medical professional before starting any new routines, particularly if you are recovering from an illness or injury or are experiencing large amounts of discomfort.

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