A lack of ankle mobility usually develops after an ankle injury because the range of movement is restricted for an extended period as the injury heals. A lack of ankle mobility doesn’t always result in pain, but it will restrict your ability to move because the tendons and muscles around your ankle are tight. The best way to combat this lack of mobility is to start incorporating daily stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine.
Daily stretching will not only help you gain back lost mobility, but it will also help protect you against future injury not just in your ankle, but in other high-strain areas such as your knees and hips. Here are a few of the best ankle exercises for increasing mobility:
3 Best Ankle Mobility Exercises
1. Ankle Circles
This is one of the best exercises you can do because you can do it just about anywhere – when you’re at your desk, in a waiting room, or at home on the couch. If you can, sit on your chair and cross your ankle over your thigh, but if you don’t have that range of flexibility, you can prop your leg up on a stool, foam roller, towels, or hold it up in the air.
Then turn your ankle slowly in circles, first one way for 5-20 circles, and then the other way. Start gently, turning circles with whatever range of motion you have, and then try to increase the size of the circle.
2. Standing Heel Raises
Another exercise you can do just about anywhere, simply stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and slowly raise up, lifting the heel and keeping the toes flat on the floor. If you need to, stand next to a chair or wall for support. Lift up to the highest point you can, and then slowly lower back down. Make sure you don’t rush.
Repeat this for 5-20 lifts, and then rest before repeating 1-2 times. To take things a step further, stand on the first step of a staircase, hold onto the railing and repeat the exercise, but this time only with your toes on the step. When you lower down, slowly lower down to the lowest point you can, before returning to a normal standing position.
You can also add free weights to increase strength and stability, but do this standing flat on the floor to begin with.
3. Banded Stretches
There is a wide range of stretches you can do with an exercise band, so if you don’t have a set, it’s well worth getting one. Here are some of the stretches you can do with a band:
- Sitting with your legs straight out in front of you, loop the exercise band around your foot and carefully pull the band to you, allowing the band to pull your foot toward you as far as comfortable.
- Tie the band to a heavy, immobile object, and sit opposite it with your legs out in front of you. Loop the band around your foot and shuffle back until you feel resistance. Then flex your foot back toward you, pulling against the band.
- Tie the band to a heavy, immobile object and sit parallel to it. Loop the band around your foot when it’s taut, and carefully flex your foot around in circles, or simply away from the point where it’s tied. Make sure you don’t move your leg instead of your foot!
Good ankle mobility will help you build ankle strength, avoid injury, and perform better in your sport(s) of choice. Our eBook Joint Health 101 contains everything you need to know to increase your joint mobility and strength not just for your ankle but every area of your body. If you’re ready to perform at your best or simply feel your best, get it here.