7 Exercises for Stronger Ankles

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Whether it be in a team-sport setting, going on your daily walk, or pushing your limits on a run, ankle injuries (in particular sprains) are very common. We use our feet and ankles in almost all of our daily activities, so ensuring they are strong is important.

 

If you seek help from an Osteopath after injuring your ankle, you will always receive rehabilitation exercises as an adjunct to hands on treatment. Rehabilitation for an ankle after an injury is imperative in managing pain, improving strength and stability and hence, minimising re-injury.

 

As an avid netballer in my teenage and early adulthood years, I experienced numerous ankle sprains and once even fractured a bone in my foot. These easy-to-do-at-home exercises are some of the main exercises I did every day in order to get back on my feet (literally!) and back onto the netball court.

 

 

1. Proprioception (to improve balance)

  • Begin standing with bare feet, close to the wall or something you can hold onto for balance in case you need it
  • Balance on one leg for as long as you can without resting one leg on the other
  • Repeat this exercise 5 times (aiming for 30-90 seconds of balance without falling), on both sides
  • Too easy? Try doing it on a pillow instead of the ground to make it harder on yourself.

 

 

2. Active Theraband Range-of-Motion (to improve flexibility at the joint)

a) Dorsiflexion:

  • Start in seated position with your legs extended, and take the band and place it around your feet
  • Bend your knee so one of your heels is resting on your shin, and pull the toes up towards your head as you maintain tension on the band
  • The other foot acts as an anchor to allow more tension to be created in the band
  • Relax to stating position and repeat 12 times. Perform 3 sets and repeat on both feet

 

b) Plantarflexion:

  • Place a band underneath your foot and hold the other end in your hand to create tension
  • Point your toes down against the resistance of the band, then control the movement as you return to the start position
  • Repeat 12 times, perform 3 sets and repeat on the other foot

 

c) Inversion:

  • Place a band around end of each foot
  • Cross one leg over the other, then pull against the resistance of the band to turn the foot away
  • The other foot acts as a stabiliser and allows you to create more tension in the band
  • Return to starting position, repeat 12 times, perform 3 sets and repeat on the other foot

 

 

d) Eversion:

  • Place band around the ends of both feet
  • Make sure your feet are spread apart to create tension on the band
  • Use one foot to anchor, as you turn the other foot outwards away from the centre
  • Control the return back to the starting position, repeat 12 times, perform 3 sets and repeat with the other foot

 

3. Knee to wall (to improve flexibility)

  • Stand facing, with the tip of your big toe against the wall, and the other leg behind for support
  • Start to move your big toe away from the wall, a centimetre at a time, each time bending your knee forward to touch the wall (all whilst keeping your heel on the floor)
  • You will get to a stage, a few centimetres away from the wall, where you will no longer be able to touch your knee to the wall without lifting your heel off the floor
  • Stay at this distance away from the wall, and continue to touch your knee to the wall 15-20 times
  • Repeat on both sides (you may find one ankle has more range than the other, this is normal)

 

4. Double stance calf raises (to improve strength)

  • Stand up facing a wall, place both hands on the wall for support
  • Rise up onto the balls of your feet, then lower your heels back to the floor
  • Repeat 20 times, perform 3 sets

 

5. Single stance calf raises (to improve strength)

  • Stand up facing a wall, place both hands on the wall for support
  • Standing on one leg, rise up onto the balls of your feet, then lower your heels back to the floor
  • Repeat as many times as you can on one leg. Remember this number, and for the next 2 repetitions of this exercise, get to that number again. As you get stronger you will be able to reach a higher number. Repeat your maximum number, 3 times, repeat on the other side

 

6. Jumping (to improve strength and agility)

  • Stand on both legs, with hips approximately hip width apart
  • Bend your knees and hips, keeping your back straight, and jump into the air exploding through the balls of your feet
  • Control the landing by taking the load through the balls of your feet, bending at the ankles, knees and hips
  • Aim to land back in a squat position with your back straight
  • Hold this position and repeat the movement, jumping directly from the squat

 

7. Squat on bosu ball (to improve strength and balance)

  • Place a Bosu on the floor on its flat side
  • Stand on the rounded side with both legs and bend down into a squat (if you haven’t got a bosu ball, you can use a pillow)
  • Explode through your feet and legs into a jump, landing in a soft controlled manner back in a squat
  • Aim to land on the balls of your feet, lowering your heels by bending your ankles, then your knees and hips
  • Repeat this movement (jumping from the squatted position) 15 times. Rest, then repeat 3-4 times.

* NOTE: Only do this if you feel comfortable doing so, this exercise may be too far advanced for some people

 

 

Feel like your ankle strength could be improved? Give these a go and let us know if you have any questions. You should notice a change within 2 weeks of doing them every day!

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Any other questions not answered here? Get in touch with us!

Dr. Sarah Duggan (Osteopath)

Total Balance Health

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