Ankle Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises for the foot and ankle can help prevent injuries and can speed recovery from an injury.
Balancing exercises are good to help strengthen the ankles. Stop any weight-bearing exercises if you experience
pain. Here are nine exercise options. My favorite is number five.
- Sit in a chair and write the alphabet with your toes to simulate ankle motion in all directions.
- Stand on one foot on a pillow or similar soft and unstable cushion and try to maintain your balance, first
with one foot and then the other. As your ability to balance increases, move into short controlled up and down
- Move the ankle up and down in a pumping motion to help decrease swelling.
- Rotate your feet up to 50 repetitions in each direction. Do four to five sets every other day.
- Strengthen your ankles by balancing with one foot flat on the ground and the other leg bent back at the
knee, as if you were in the normal support phase of a running stride. Start at 30 seconds at a time and
practice until you can hold your balance for several minutes. When you have mastered this step, close your eyes
and do the same thing. Repeatedly losing your balance and then recovering gradually strengthens the ankles even
more. Doing this exercise with your eyes closed retrains you to quickly react to changes as your nerve endings
detect a twist or turn when the foot hits the ground.
- Stand on one leg and slowly rise all the way up onto your toes and then slowly lower your heel to a flat
foot. Balance yourself as necessary. Start with 25 repetitions and work up to 50 daily. This is another good
- Stand with your forefeet on a raised surface, a few inches is fine, and rise up onto your toes and then
back down again. Hold each, at the top and at the bottom, for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat until both calves are
- An isometric exercise done in a sitting position with the feet pushing against each other helps strengthen
muscles without joint movement. Push down with one foot on top while pulling up with the other foot on the
bottom. Then reverse feet. You can also put your feet bottom-to-bottom, first pushing the big toes against each
other and then the small toes against each other. Hold the motions for six to ten seconds and repeat several
times a day.
- Hop on one foot and then change to the other foot. Practice forward and backward, and side to side