The ankle is one of the most vital joints in the body when it comes to athletic performance; it is the foundation of stability, structural integrity, and movement. It is also one of the most ignored. Ankles support the weight of the body, stabilize it, aid in shifting weight during movement, and absorbing force. It is important to work your ankle strength in a variety of positions in order to fully work all of the related muscle groups and increase the range of motion.
How to Increase Ankle Strength and Flexibility
Getting Better Balance
There are several ways to train your ankles to gain better balance and improved stability.
- Stand on one leg. Stand on your left leg for 30 seconds, then switch to the right leg for 30 seconds. Try working up to a full minute for each leg. You can start out holding onto a wall or chair to help you at first.
- Single leg half squat. Stand on your left leg with your right leg extended in front of you and do a half squat. Extend your right leg to the side, then behind. Switch legs. Do 10 reps for each leg front, side, and behind. Repeat this three times.
Building Ankle Strength and Flexibility
There are many great ways to strengthen ankles and improve flexibility. These are some of the most effective.
- Thera-band exercises. Put the band over the top of your foot, holding onto each end. Extend your leg and angle your foot outside, then inside in a rocking motion. At the end of each movement, curl your toes to work the foot muscles as well. You can also do flex and point using the thera-band. Do 10 reps on each foot and repeat 3 times.
- Calf raises. Stand on a block or step so that the toes are on the surface that the heel is not supported. Drop the heel below the toes, then raise it up so that the calf muscle is flexed. You can do both legs and a time and this should be done from a standing position as well as a sitting position. Start with 25 raises sitting and 25 raises standing but gradually increase to 30 each.
- Standing Squat Jump. Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Go into a quarter squat position. Jump up so that both feet come off of the ground then land softly with soft knees. Repeat 20 times.
- Scissor Hops. Stand in a lunge position with your right leg positioned in front of your left. Jump up and switch your feet so that you land with your left leg forward and your right leg behind. Repeat 20 times.
What are your best exercises for increasing ankle strength and flexibility? Tell us about it in the comments!