How to Build Ankle Muscles

athletic sport runner man running up stairs in urban training

The muscles that support your ankle also support your body for good posture and protect you from injuries, such as a sprained ankle. Your ankle relies on strong muscles when playing sports, particularly those that require quick directional changes such as soccer, football and tennis. The ankle is supported by the calf muscles which are the gastrocnemius and soleus, and the muscles along your shins, which are the tibialis anterior. These muscles are responsible for pointing your toes down and flexing your toes toward the ceiling. This full range of motion is used when training the lower leg muscles so you have strong and flexible ankles.

Warm up before doing your ankle exercises. Spend five to 10 minutes performing full-body movements that use your ankles, such as walking, stair climbing or dancing.

Perform an ankle flexion exercise, such as the seated ankle flexion, against the resistance of an exercise band to strengthen the muscles along your shins. Attach one end of a band to a sturdy support base such as a pole or couch leg. Tie the other end of the band across the ball of your right foot. Sit facing the base with your right leg straight and the tension of the band pulling your toes toward the base. Exhale and flex your foot by pulling your toes toward your shin. Inhale and release. Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions on each foot. Use a resistance band tension that fatigues your muscles for the final two repetitions of each set.

Complete ankle plantar flexion using the weight of your body or add dumbbells for added resistance to strengthen your calves. Stand with the balls of your feet on an aerobic step or on a stair. Let your heels hang off the edge. Hold onto a wall for balance support. Hold onto a dumbbell in one hand to increase the challenge. Exhale and raise your heels as high as possible. Inhale and lower your heels until you feel a stretch in your calves. Complete one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

Do an ankle rotation exercise to strengthen your ankles from a variety of angles. Sit in a chair or stool so your foot does not touch the floor. Point your toes toward the floor and draw the letters of the alphabet with your big toe. Complete two sets on each ankle.

Complete your ankle exercises two or three days a week with at least one day of rest in between workouts.


Speak with your doctor if you have lasting ankle discomfort.

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