Having stronger ankles is very important for stability—especially if you are like to engage in lower body workouts or play a sport that involves movement. Weak ankles can easily cause injuries—not only in your feet and ankles but also in your knees and hips. There are many methods to strengthen your ankles.
To avoid these injuries, try as much as possible to add some proprioception exercises into your workout routine.
Proprioception is the ability of your body to be aware of its movement and position in space. If you don‘t have good proprioception, your ankles won’t be able to get any stronger—even if you strengthen the muscles in and around it.
The logistics behind it:
There is a feedback loop between your brain and the sensory receptors that send signals to the brain to enable you to stabilize your body before deciding on which muscles to activate. Therefore, to have stronger and stable ankles, you would want to support both your musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems.
Methods to Strengthen Your Ankles
Most of these exercises focus on stabilizing the ankles which is important for any jumping or running sport as well as staying safe during daily activities. Achieving ankle stability is not only the work of the muscles but also the brain—and this is where proprioception is important. By practicing the following exercises, you can get that connection in your brain working seamlessly with your body, since it’ll learn how to stabilize the joint of the ankle. So here are some methods to strengthen your ankles:
Standing Heel Raises – two up, two down
Stand normally on a curb or a raised surface, hip-width apart. Then lift your heels up slowly so that you are standing on your toes. Hold for a second and slowly lower your heels back in a control manner. Make sure to control all your movements when standing on your toes and lowering your heels back as long as you don’t feel any pain. Do this exercise 10 times and repeat for 2 to 3 sets. When you’re finished, don’t forget to stretch your calves.
Standing Heel Raises – two up, one down
This is a more challenging heel raise exercise. Start by standing on your toes of one foot. Then slowly lower the heels of the foot that you are standing on.
Repeat this exercise by standing on your toes with only one foot and then lower one heel. Do this movement for 10 times on each foot.
Balancing a single leg on an unstable surface
Challenging your ankle’s stability is one of the best ways to improve your stability. You can try this by using an unstable surface or an Airex or half Bosu ball. It’s a simple exercise of standing on one foot for 30 seconds and trying to balance on the surface.
If your ankle is wobbly and you can’t maintain your balance for more than 5 seconds, then you may not be ready for this exercise yet.
If balancing for 30 seconds is easier for you, try using a softer or more stable surface.
Squat jumps are good methods to strengthen your ankles muscles as well as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To do this, start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart.
Slowly, lower your body down to the ground and then jump straight up. Repeat the same for 10 times.
This exercise will improve the stability of your ankle’s joints by strengthening the muscles in and around it. Sit on a chair and extend your right leg—make sure that your knee is straight. Then move your right foot in a clockwise direction about 10 to 20 rotations. Rest your foot for 5 seconds and then repeat the same—but this time, move your foot in the counterclockwise direction for 10 to 20 times.
Alternate your legs and do 3 to 4 sets by each one of them. You can vary the ankles circles.
For example, you can move your foot from side to side or up and down. By doing these moves, you will be improving the range of motion.
Draw the alphabet
This is a simple A-B-C exercise for your ankles. Start by lying on your back or you can stand and use a sturdy chair for support. Lift the right leg and draw the letters of the alphabet using your toes while flexing your foot.
Repeat this on the left leg. Doing this every day will strengthen your ankle muscles.
Flex and stretch
Begin by lying on your back and straighten your legs so your heels touch the ground and toes point up. Slowly, point your toes away from you as far as you can and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat for 10 times and do the same on the other foot.
Use a resistance band
Loop one end of a resistance band around the leg of a table or any other fixed surface. Then, loop the other end around your right foot. Begin by pointing your foot downwards and then slowly point it up against the resistance of the band.
Repeat this 10 times and then do the same on your left foot. You can also move your feet from side to side to vary the movements.
Weighted ankle lifts
Sit on a chair and extend your feet straight in front of you. Use an ankle weight or weighted towel wrapped around your toes and feet. Slowly point your feet downward to lower the object. Then use your ankles to lift the object back up. Repeat for 10 times and do the same on the left foot.
After considering Methods to Strengthen Your Ankles
Performing the above exercises daily will help in strengthening your ankle muscles and improving their stability. These are simple exercises that you can do anywhere. Having strong and stable ankles is important—especially if you are an athlete involved in sports such as running, football, rugby, tennis, and other lower body exercises. Strong ankles are also less likely to be injured during movements.
However, if you feel any pain at all in your ankles, consult your doctor as there might be an underlying condition that needs medical attention.