If your desire to stay fashionable has you pretending that it's easy to walk on those uncomfortable high heels, reconsider your fashion style. One unexpected, awkward move can have you end up with a painful, sprained ankle and wishing you never put those shoes in the first place. Part of recovery might include targeted exercises that can restore the range of motion of your ankles. Even if you don't fancy high heels, improving ankle flexibility can help prevent injuries and make activities, such as running, walking, swimming and ice skating easier.
Complete up to 20 repetitions of the point-and-flex stretch. Sit upright on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes as far down as you comfortably can and hold this stretch for three counts. Come back to the starting point and flex your ankles toward your shins as far as you can without feeling any pain. Pause three seconds and come back to the starting position.
Incorporate the towel stretch in your routine. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Wrap a towel around the ball of one foot and hold the ends of the towel in your hands. Pull the ends of the towel toward your upper body so your toes come closer to your shins. Hold this for 30 seconds before switching legs. Do this stretch three times. Alternatively, use a resistance band.
Perform the windshield-wiper exercise. Sit in a chair with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Pivot your feet outward as far as you can so your feet form a V shape. Pause one second and reverse the motion, bringing your toes as close as you can toward each other to form a cone shape. Only move the front of your feet -- keep your heels in place and don't move your knees. Repeat the exercise up to 20 times.
Circle your ankles in both directions. Sit upright on a bed with your feet and lower legs extended over the edge. Make 20 small circles with your feet in one direction. Reverse the direction and make another 20 small circles. Alternatively, write the alphabet in the air with your big toe. Avoid moving your knees -- only move your feet. Keep your movements small, and as your flexibility improves, make them larger.
Swing your knees to promote ankle flexibility. Sit in a chair with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Push your feet into the floor and smoothly move your knees as far as you can from the left side to the right side. Avoid moving your feet. Swing your knees for about two minutes.
- American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: How to Care for a Sprained Ankle
- PhysioAdvisor.com: Ankle Stretches
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Foot and Ankle Conditioning Program
- Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina: Active Ankle & Foot Range of Motion Exercises
- WebMD: Range-of-Motion Exercises for Ankle Sprains
- To prevent injuries, ride a bike or walk for five minutes to warm up before exercising your ankles.
- Consult your doctor before starting flexibility exercises for your ankles, especially if you have an injury or medical condition.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.