Our ankles are the basis of most of the movements that our bodies make. They are also, unfortunately, one of the most commonly injured body parts. To prevent those injuries, it’s important to keep the ligaments and muscles that surround the ankle healthy and strong. Here are a few suggestions for exercises to strengthen the ankle and help prevent injury:
1. Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Rotate your ankles, one at a time, in each direction. Do this up to 50 times with each ankle.
2. Stand on one foot and raise all the way up onto your toes. Then, slowly lower your body down until your heel is on the floor.
3. Hop on one foot, concentrating on landing gently and maintaining balance. When you feel secure in that move, add forward, backward and side-to-side hops to increase the challenge. Do this with both legs.
Exercises that challenge your balance are another great way to strengthen the ankles:
4. Stand on one leg with your other leg bent at the knee, foot pointing backwards. Start with a 30 second session, holding your balance and using your ankle to correct if you start to lose your balance. Increase the length of your session as you get better balancing until you can stand for several minutes at a time on one foot. When you’ve mastered that, try the exercise again with your eyes closed. Losing and regaining your balance repeatedly goes a long way in increasing ankle strength.
5. Stand on one leg on a cushion, pillow, or similarly unstable surface to test your balance. When you can maintain your balance sufficiently, add short up and down knee bends to the exercise. As mentioned above, this exercise with challenge your balance and strengthen your ankle.
These exercises may also be a great way to help you recover from an ankle injury, but it’s important to remember to speak with your physician before you undergo any of these exercises, especially if you’re recovering from an injury.