Exercises for the Calves & Ankles

Keep ankles and calves flexible with stretching.

Keep ankles and calves flexible with stretching.

It is normal for your lower legs and ankles to tire, especially if you wear high heels, since your calves and ankles support your weight throughout the day. You improve the ability of your lower legs to bear your weight with strengthening and stretching exercises. Another benefit from the exercises is an increased range of motion in your ankles which reduces pain and risk for injury. For example, if you step off a curb and your ankle twists, instead of resulting in a sprain, your flexible ankle will simply bend with the movement.

Calf Strength

Stand with the toes and balls of your feet on a step. Let your ankles hang off the edge. Keep your knees straight, or allow a slight bend in the joint.

Exhale and lift your heels as high as possible as you contract your lower legs. Hold still briefly at the top of the movement.

Inhale and lower your heels as far as possible as you stretch your calves.

Complete eight to 12 calf raises to strengthen your lower legs. Rest for one minute and repeat. Hold onto a dumbbell in one or both hands when you need a greater resistance.

Ankle Mobilization

Stand facing a wall and approximately 2 to 3 feet from the wall. Position your feet 1 inch apart.

Lean forward and place your hands on the wall in line with or slightly below shoulder level. Contact your heels with the floor while you are in this position.

Shift your weight onto your left foot. Pick your right foot off the floor. Bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle and lift the knee to hip height.

Move your right leg across the front of your body toward your left hip. Rotate your hips and turn your chest to the left. Keep your hands on the wall and your heel on the floor. Maintain this position for one to two seconds. Gaze at your right foot.

Swing your right leg out to the right. Open your hip and turn your chest to the right. Gaze at your right foot as you hold this position for one to two seconds.

Perform one or two sets of five to 10 swings on each leg.

Ankle Stretch

Sit on a bed or a couch with your legs straight. Hang half of your right lower leg and your foot off the edge of the bed.

Flex your right foot and aim your toes toward your shin. Maintain this position for 10 seconds.

Point your right foot and aim your toes toward the wall in front of you. Maintain this position for 10 seconds.

Relax your foot and then turn the bottom of your foot to the left. Point the outside of your right ankle down. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds.

Turn the bottom of your foot to the right. Point the outside of your right ankle up. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Repeat Step 2 through Step 5 10 times on each foot.

Tip

  • Warm your legs and ankles before you stretch. Walk, cycle, jog or dance to increase the blood flow to your calves.

Warning

  • Speak with your doctor first, especially if you have a pre-existing ankle injury.
 

About the Author

A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.

Photo Credits

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