Imagine the confidence you feel when you know you have a firm base upon which to stand. Strong ankles help give you this sturdy foundation for good posture, confident walking and strong sports performance. Weak ankles leave you unsteady with the risk of falling from lack of balance and increase your risk of injury if you misstep. However, by doing just a few minutes of specific exercises every week, you can improve your ankle strength.
Warm your ankles before you begin your strengthening workout by spending five to 10 minutes performing full-body movements. For example, walk, climb stairs, cycle, dance or jump rope to increase the blood flow to your lower legs.
Do one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise that raises your heels to improve your ankle plantar flexion. For example, sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs and gently push down as you raise your heels off the floor. Do the same exercise while standing. Place your feet hip-distance apart and lift your heels off the floor. Hold onto a dumbbell in each hand or hold a barbell across your upper back for added resistance.
Include in your routine one to three sets of an exercise that raises your toes and lowers your heels to improve your ankle dorsi flexion. For example, sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently push your hands onto your thighs as you raise your toes toward your shins. Do the same exercise while standing. Or, tie an exercise band to a sturdy base and sit on the floor facing the band. Tie the other end around your foot. Flex your foot by pulling your toes toward your shins against the band's resistance.
Add a movement exercise to strengthen your ankles. Walk on the outsides of your feet by turning your soles toward each other. Walk on your heels with your toes lifted. Walk on your tip toes. Walk slowly and begin with five to 10 steps. Gradually increase your number of steps as your ankle strength improves.
Perform your ankle workouts every other day with a day of rest in between sessions.
Select a weight amount that feels challenging for the final two repetitions of each set. Increase the amount of weight when you can easily perform three sets of 12 repetitions.
Speak with your doctor before you begin an ankle-strengthening workout, especially if you have a previous or existing ankle injury. If you have a latex allergy, use a latex-free exercise band.