When it comes to strengthening and stretching workouts, chances are that you focus on your arms, legs, back, and glutes—but your ankles? They’re likely to fall off your radar. While they’re easily overlooked, if you’ve ever sprained an ankle, you know that injuring this small area of the body can be hugely painful.
To the rescue: Moves that improve ankle mobility and strength—which in the P.volve Method often means functional movement-based strength-training exercises that incorporate balance. Exercises like these don’t just reduce the chance of injury by keeping the joint stable and flexible—they can also help take unnecessary stress off other areas of the body like the knees and hips. That’s because the ankles and feet, which are made up of several small bones and joints, are designed to absorb shock.
“They need to be both mobile and strong to absorb much of that force so as not to overload the joints above the ankle,” says Dr. Amy Hoover Doctor of Physical Therapy and member of P.volve’s Clinical Advisory Board. “When our feet and ankles are functioning properly, this allows the rest of the lower body to work the way it is designed and can allow better biomechanics and correct movement patterns.” Have we talked you into starting an ankle routine? We’ve got a few moves that can help you strengthen your ankles and improve ankle mobility.
3 Moves to Strengthen Your Ankles
Strengthening the muscles that surround the ankles, foot, and lower leg can help stabilize the ankle joint, reducing the chance of ankle pain or injuries. Use these three P.volve exercises to help strengthen your ankles (light ankle weights optional). An added benefit: These ankle workouts double as leg strengthening exercises.
Stand with hips square, right foot slightly in front of left, arms above the head with light weights in hands. Lengthen the right leg and tap toes forward while leaning slightly back create one long diagonal line through the body from your right toes out the crown of your head, avoiding arching in your lower back, angling the hip bones up toward the ceiling and squeezing the glutes. Lower arms to shoulder height, keeping them straight, while straightening back to neutral and raising the right knee toward ceiling. Then extend the arms up and lean slightly back while tapping the right foot forward. Do 10-12 reps, then switch sides.
Leg Extension on the Slant Board
Stand on the slant board (toes pointing down) with elbows bent and hands at the hips and find a p.sit with your torso in a long diagonal line. Lift the right leg up so the knees touch and then extend the right leg straight back behind you while reaching arms out in front. Hold for a moment, then pull the right leg in so that knees touch while bringing the arms back to start position. Be sure your back isn’t overarching and that your abs stay tightly pulled in. Do 8-10 reps, then switch sides.
Inner Thigh Sweep on the Slant Board
Stand with the left foot on the slant board, right leg extended straight back behind you with heel raised high, left hand on left hip, and right arm extended up. Step the right leg a few inches across your midline as you squeeze the top of the inner thighs, then step foot back to start position. Do 8-10 reps, then switch sides.
3 Ankle Mobility Exercises
The next time you stretch, don’t forget about your ankles. Stretching the surrounding muscles there will help increase the range of motion in the joint and reduce the chance of injury. Plus, these three ankle mobility exercises from P.volve trainers just feel good!
Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart. Lift up onto the balls of the feet as you squeeze the calf muscles, focusing on pushing into the inner edges of the feet (big toe area). Lower heels to return to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps.
Ankle Mobility with the p.ball
Sit with legs extended in front of you. Place the p.ball under the right calf, bring the ball of the right foot into the p.ball strap, holding the strap in the right hand, and gently rest the left hand on the right thigh to hold the leg in alignment. Articulate through the right foot by slowly pointing it and pushing into the band, then flex back (pulling strap if needed). Do 8 reps, then switch sides.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, using a chair for hand support if needed. Lift the right heel and gently circle through the ankle. Do 10-12 reps, reversing direction halfway through, then switch sides.
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