How to Strengthen Your Ankles

If you’ve injured your ankle, you know that it can be as painful as it is annoying. Ankle injuries are relatively common and can happen from doing pretty much anything, from rolling your ankle on the curb to taking a spill while you’re out on your morning run.

The best way to prevent an ankle injury is to strengthen your ankles. While we tend to think of strengthening in terms of working out our larger muscles, like glutes and hamstrings, strengthening your ankles is just as, if not more, important. Think of it—your ankles support the weight of your entire body. If the muscles around them are weak, you’re more likely to get injured. And if you’ve already endured an ankle sprain, you’re 70 percent more likely to get injured again.

Tips for strengthening your ankles

1. Increase flexibility

Tight ankles are more prone to injuries. Flexibility training will help your ankle loosen up. Make sure to do the exercises on both ankles, not just the injured one, to keep them in shape. Do these stretches every day, up to six times per day. Make sure to do them before and after you exercise.

Calf stretch:

  1. Stand facing a wall and step back so you’re about two feet away.
  2. Put both hands on the wall, about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Put one foot behind the other while keeping your toes pointed toward the wall.
  4. Straighten your back leg and put both heels to the ground (as much as you can)
  5. Bend your front knee until you start feeling the stretch in your back leg.
  6. Hold for 12 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Heel stretch:

  1. Sit on the floor with one knee slightly bent and the other tucked in against your thigh.
  2. Wrap a towel or a band around the foot of your outstretched leg.
  3. Gently pull on the towel or band until you start feeling your calf and heel muscles stretch.
  4. Hold for 12 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

2. Strengthen your leg muscles

You don’t need weights to strengthen your ankle muscles. Just get a chair and have a seat! For best results, do three rounds of 20 reps of each exercise every day.

Front push up:

  1. Put one foot flat on the floor and the heel of the other one on top of it.
  2. Push down on the top heel while you push up with your other foot.
  3. Hold for three seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Front push-out:

  1. Move your chair next to a wall and hold your flat foot on the floor against the wall.
  2. Push your foot against the wall and hold for three seconds.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

Inner push-in:

  1. Put both feet flat on the floor and push them against each other.
  2. Hold each push for three seconds, rest, then repeat.

3. Balance exercises

Good balance will help your body stabilize and reduce your risk of injury. Here’s an easy exercise you can do from anywhere to help you improve your balance.

  1. Stand on one leg for 30 seconds (or as long as you can, building up to 30 seconds).
  2. Switch legs and repeat.
  3. Do this circuit three to five times per leg.

These exercises will help strengthen your ankles and reduce your risk of injury. Try to do them every day for best results.

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