Keeping ankles strongStructures are only as strong as their weakest point. If a machine has weakened gears or joints, those points will give out under pressure. This principle holds true for your ankles. Your lower limbs depend on your ankles both for absorbing shock and for basic movement. Ankle therapy can be a valuable part of maintaining your joint stability, especially after an injury.

The Importance of Keeping Ankles Strong

Since your ankles are largely responsible for supporting your body and allowing movement, keeping them strong and stable is vital. In the long run, investing in ankle therapy can help you prevent injuries as well as recover from them more quickly. Stable ankles are less likely to sprain or give out under pressure. If you do injure your joints, exercising them increases the strength of the supporting structure, reconditioning you for your activities and decreasing your odds of reinjuring yourself. Ankle therapy can be broken down into two types: stretching and strength building.

Stretching Out Your Ankles

Though it may seem counterintuitive, you need some degree of flexibility in your lower limbs, particularly in your calves and Achilles tendons. When these tissues are constantly tight, they can actually cause injuries. Improving their flexibility, in turn, allows you to maintain a healthy range of motion and build strength as well. Here are some basic stretches:

  • Wall Stretch – Stand with your hands flat against the wall, with one foot planted six inches behind the other. Keeping the back knee straight and your heel flat against the ground, bend the other knee and lunge forward toward the wall slightly until you feel the pull in your calf.

  • Bent Knee Wall Stretch – With your hands against a wall and one foot planted six inches behind the other, bend both knees and lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch.

  • Heel Drops – Stand on a stair step with your heels hanging off the edge. Slowly lower your heels until you feel the pull. Hold that for a second before returning to neutral. Repeat this multiple times.

  • Towel Stretch – Sit with your feet straight in front of you. Loop a towel around your toes and gently pull back until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg.

Strength Building for Ankles

These exercises work specifically with the muscles and tendons that stabilize your joint. The stronger they are, the more your ankles can support you when you need them to. Here are some basic strength-building activities:

  • Calf Raises – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Carefully raise your heels as high off the ground as you can. Hold for a second, then lower to neutral and repeat multiple times.

  • Balancing Exercises – Stand on one foot without holding anything for support for 30 seconds. When that becomes easy, extend your time to a minute. Continue to progress by balancing with your eyes closed or on an unstable surface, like a pillow.

  • Ankle Rotations – Sit with your legs in front of you. Slowly rotate your feet at the ankles in both clockwise and counterclockwise circles.

If you’re struggling with weak ankles, or you aren’t sure how to do these exercises, contact the podiatrists at Martin Foot and Ankle in Hanover, Lancaster, Lititz and York, PA for more information or an appointment. We can help you establish an ankle therapy program to suit your needs. Call (717) 757-3537 or request an appointment online.