Weak ankles, which have a tendency to roll or turn, are a concern whether you dance, run a marathon or hit the town in your new high heels. Anyone can benefit from strengthening their ankles, but especially if you're involved in sports, strong muscles help prevent injury. Strength training can also help you rehabilitate if you have an ankle injury. Isometric exercises, in which you push against a fixed object while holding the joint still, performed one to three times per day, are the easiest way to start. These exercises strengthen the muscles and tendons around the ankle to develop joint stability.
Isometric Plantar Flexion
Plantar flexion is extension of the ankle in which the foot is moved away from the body. This exercises works the muscles and tendons on the top of the foot and front of the ankle. Fold a pillow in half and place it against a wall. Place your foot flat against the pillow and press you toes into it. Alternatively, make a loop with a resistance band and place your foot in it with the band on the bottom of your foot just below the toes. Hold the band firmly and press your toes away from your body to stretch the band. Hold this position for five to eight seconds, then relax. Perform three to five sets of 10 repetitions.
Dorsiflexion involves pulling the toes up toward the body. This exercise uses that motion to work the muscles and tendons at the back of the ankle. Stand at a wall and place a folded pillow between the wall and the bottom of your foot. Press your foot into the wall. With a resistance band, tie the band and secure it around something that will not move, like a table or chair leg. Place the band over your instep and pull your toes back toward your body stretching the band. Hold for five to eight seconds and release. Complete three to five sets of 10 repetitions.
Inversion occurs when the muscles on the inside of the ankle are contracted to pull the foot inward. This exercise develops those muscles which create inversion. Place a folded pillow between your feet so that the insides of your feet are flat to the pillow. Squeeze your feet together to work both ankles at the same time. If you are using a resistance band, tie it in a loop and place it around the leg of a chair or table, making certain the chair or table does not move and place it around your foot at the instep so that the band is secured to the outside of your foot. Gently pull your foot away from the fixed point. Hold for five to eight seconds. Relax for a couple of seconds and then repeat to complete 10 repetitions. Continue for three to five sets.
This exercise strengthens the muscles and tendons necessary for eversion. Eversion is the movement of the foot outward through the contraction of the muscles on the outside of the ankle. Place a folded pillow against a wall and press the outer edge if your foot firmly against it. To use a resistance band, tie it into a loop and place it around a fixed point, such as a chair or table leg that will not slide. Place the loop around your instep making certain that the fixed point is toward the inside of your foot or between your legs. Press your foot away from the flexed point, stretching the band. Hold this stretch for five to eight seconds, performing three to five sets of 10 repetitions.
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images