A complex joint, the ankle can withstand up to eight times your body weight when running. However, if your ankles are slight or weak, you may be at a greater risk of sustaining a sprain or fracture, especially during physical activity. Building up your ankles means performing exercises that strengthen the surrounding muscles. Of particular importance are the calves, which run down the back of your lower leg, and the front shin, or tibialis anterior.
Resistance Band Dorsiflexion Exercise
Tie one end of a resistance band around the ball of your right foot and attach the other end to a sturdy fixture 2 to 3 feet in front of you. The band should be taut. Sit on an exercise mat with your legs extended forward. Place your hands on the floor by your sides for support.
Point your right foot away from your body. This is starting position.
Pull the right toes up toward your leg, until the foot is fully flexed.
Hold the flexed position for one count and then point the foot again. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions and then repeat with the left foot.
Dumbbell Standing Toe Raise
Choose resistance levels that are challenging but still allow you to complete the exercises with proper form.
Use an exercise step for the calf raise that is stable and will not turn over.
Discontinue the exercises and consult a physician if you feel any pain in your calves, shins or ankles.
Place an exercise step next to a wall, pole or stable gym machine that can be used as a means of support. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand on the edge of the step, balanced on the balls of your feet with your heels hanging off the side. Place your free hand on the wall or means of support to help you remain stabilized.
Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine and push your shoulder blades down your back. Keep your legs straight with soft knees, to avoid locking them out.
Lower your heels toward the floor until the calves are fully stretched.
Push down through your toes and the balls of your feet to lift the heels. Allow them to move through starting position and rise up as far as possible. Use all five toes to lift the heel.
Hold the lift for one count. Continue the set by immediately lowering your heels toward the floor again. Complete 10 full cycles.
Things You'll Need
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.