Stretches for Ankle Joints
Stretches for the ankle are crucial to allow complete range of motion, which will facilitate movement by your feet and legs. Increase physical performance and decrease risk of injury by learning the best stretches for the ankle joint. Do different stretches in every workout.
Grab a Stretch Band
According to physical therapist Kelly Starrett, band distraction is one of the best ways to gain range of motion in the ankles. Hook a resistance band around the front of your ankle. Attach the other end to something stable such as a power rack or sturdy table. Step forward until the band has adequate tension. Keep your entire foot flat on the floor as you push your knee forward over your toes. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform one to two sets on each ankle.
Deep Squat to the Rescue
The deep squat is usually thought of as a lower body strength exercise, but it's actually one of the best ankle stretches as well. In fact, ankle inflexibility is often a limiting factor in performing deep squats. If your ankles are tight, you will feel yourself rock forward onto your toes when squatting. Do the body weight deep squat to get those ankles loosened up. Set your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes straight forward. Keep your back straight and chest up as you bend your legs and lower yourself towards the ground. Allow your thighs to drop below parallel to the floor, and stop when your hamstrings make contact with your calf muscles. Extend your legs until you reach the starting position. Ensure that your heels maintain contact with the floor throughout the exercise to improve your ankle range of motion. Perform eight to 12 repetitions for one to two sets.
The step ankle stretch is a great way to stretch your ankles with limited equipment. Find a small step, no larger than six inches and place your heel on the floor with the ball of your foot on the step. Slowly drive your knee forward over the toe until you feel a stretch in the achilles tendon and calf muscles. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat for one to two sets on each ankle.
Tips and Considerations
Choose one or two ankle stretches and alternate between them in workouts throughout the week. Perform ankle stretches after your workout when you are warm. If you would like to do ankle stretches pre workout to loosen the ankles, incorporate them as dynamic stretches--stretching with movement involved--instead of holding each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. To ensure you don't lose power from your ankle stretching exercises, perform mini holds of two seconds and repeat six times before your workout.
- Becoming a Supple Leopard; Dr. Kelly Starrett
- YouTube: Deep Bodyweight Squat
- ExRx.net: Step Calf Stretch
- YouTube: Episode 258/365: Ankle Mobility--Self Mulligan
- Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images