5 exercises to help build ankle strength
Ankles? Seriously? Why would you want to strengthen an ankle? They’re not like biceps or quadriceps where there are obvious muscles at play. Sometimes it seems like strengthening an ankle would be a bit like strengthening an eyebrow.
However, there is a lot more to ankles than meets the eye.
Why is Ankle Strength important?
Have you ever turned your ankle playing a friendly and enjoyable game of social tennis? It’s excruciating, and in those awful initial moments, it really can feel like you’ve broken your leg. And no question, we underestimate the importance of ankle strengthening. We tend to ignore ankles in the grand scheme of exercise and strength-building until we are suffering from an ankle sprain.
Well, ignore them at your peril. Not only does strength training ankle muscles help prevent injury but the onset of age also hampers their strength. As we age, our bones become more brittle. A concerted effort to build muscle strength in our ankles can help to keep us balanced and free from nasty falls in later life.
So what are the best ankle strengthening exercises?
If your ankles are weak – and there’s a good chance they are if they haven’t ever been targeted – there are quick and easy exercises to build ankle strength. Best of all, you don’t need a gym; you can do these exercises at your desk or while bingeing on Netflix.
1. Ankle circles
Fairly straightforward: Sit in a chair and hold your right leg out straight. Move your right foot in circles clockwise 20 times or as many as you can do comfortably. Rest and then rotate it counterclockwise. Do the same on the left ankle.
2. Gas pedals
Same basic setup, only this time you’re in a Formula One racing car planting your foot on the gas and taking it off up to 20 times. Yes, your car will lurch around the track like a learner driver, but your ankles will thank you for it. Do around 20 on both feet.
3. Windshield wipers
You probably have got a general idea, but it’s a very wet day just past your foot. So wipe that rain away with back and forth foot movements; up to 20 on each foot.
For this one, you’re going to use your big toe as the pen and your whole foot to write the entire alphabet IN CAPS from A to Z, leg straight out in front of you. Change legs and do it again, and then write the alphabet in lower case for both legs.
5. Standing calf raises
Lift yourself up on your onto your toes and repeat for 15 reps. When this becomes easier increase the challenge by standing on one leg or hold weights while repeating the reps.
Are there ankle strengthening exercises with resistance bars?
There sure are, and far too many to mention here. If you want a real resistance band exercise program, here’s a great routine you can do at home with a bunch of exercises sure to work your ankles.
Can you grow ankle strength through balance training?
Yes, you can, and there are enough variations there for an entirely new article. Meantime, here are some you can try now.
Will these stretches help with ankle pain?
Any exercise that increases ankle strength and rotation can be beneficial. But consult your doctor or health professional first and go easy. Let your ankles tell you if it’s working. While fatigue is expected, genuine pain isn’t.